After naming the best horses who trailed and failed to win the Longchamp showpiece, Steven Dowler lists seven of the greatest Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners of all time.
ENABLE (2017 & 2018)
We were privileged to witness Enable win back-to-back Arc’s in 2017 and 2018, having emerged as a top-class middle-distance performer in Europe back in June 2017 when winning the Epsom Oaks. Since finishing third on debut, she remained unbeaten between May 2017 and October 2019, amassing twelve consecutive victories with ten of those coming at Group 1 level.
Enable won the Cheshire Oaks, Irish Oaks, Eclipse Stakes, King George VI, Breeders’ Cup Turd in addition to winning each of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks, and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe twice. Enable is, without doubt, one of the best fillies in the history of flat racing and the way she won her first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2018 was devastating.
Despite not being at her best the following year, Enable showed a great attitude to hold on under Frankie Dettori from the fast-finishing Sea Of Class in second to go into the record books. She became the first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Arc in the same year.
Enable then tried to become the first horse to win three Arc’s in 2020 but went down fighting in second place. At the furlong pole she showed her trademark turn of foot, skipping two lengths clear and looked to have the race won. Unfortunately, Waldgeist ran her down in the final few strides to break her heart and end her long unbeaten record. Even so, Enable ran a brilliant race in defeat.
She has won 13 of her 15 career starts to date and apparently will be back in training for another season, which will surely be her last. Enable was a brilliant winner of the 2017 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. To come back and defend her title in 2018 before finishing second in 2020 demonstrated why she is a superstar and why she makes the list.
TREVE (2013 & 2014)
Treve is undoubtedly one of the greatest French racehorses we have seen, becoming a back-to-back winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. She only raced once as a two-year-old, and won, before winning all four starts in 2013, including the Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille. The highlight of her season came in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
She was a devastating five-length winner of the race, beating Japanese superstar Orfevre in the process. Treve was beaten on her first three starts as a short priced favourite in 2014, meaning she went into her second Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as an 11/1 outsider. However, Treve was not to be denied as she showed her trademark turn of foot to score by two lengths at the line. Although Treve wasn’t as impressive this time around, connections did a brilliant job to get her to peak on the main stage of the season again and make history.
Treve was then attempting to become the first horse to win three Arc’s the following season. She won her first three starts in 2015 nicely; a Group 2 and the Prix de Saint-Cloud at Group 1 level before claiming her second Group 1 Prix Vermeille.
She was made even money favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the back of a smooth season. Unfortunately, Treve didn’t show her usual turn of foot but the brilliant filly stayed on well to finish fourth in what proved to be her final career outing. She was a brilliant filly, who was a six time Group 1 winner and was no doubt one of the greatest French flat racehorses we have ever seen.
GOLDEN HORN (2015)
Golden Horn was an extraordinary horse whose racing career lasted just 367 days. In that time he managed to win seven of his nine starts with four of those coming at Group 1 level.
He had an unbelievable 2015, winning the Dante Stakes at York before landing the Epsom Derby. He beat the talented Jack Hobbs both times and by an impressive three lengths in their second encounter.
Golden Horn continued his dominance with a third straight Group 1 success in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, comfortably beating The Grey Gatsby. He lost his unbeaten record in the Juddmonte International as a short priced favourite when filly Arabian Queen caused a shock at 50/1, beating the multiple Group 1 winner by a neck.
Even so, Golden Horn bounced back to winning ways in the Irish Champion Stakes, defeating very good horses such as Found. His European campaign ended with a fine success in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Sent off at 9/2 behind odds-on favourite Treve, Frankie Dettori kicked his mount into the lead off the home-bend and the pair saw off a high-class field to win by two lengths.
Golden Horn ended his career as runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland when beaten half a length behind Found. He was a brilliant racehorse, who achieved what looked an impossible amount of Group 1 victories in such a short but glorious career, none more so than his brilliant win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
SEA THE STARS (2009)
Sea The Stars is regarded as one of the greatest racehorses of all time and it is hard to disagree. Although only fourth on his debut, he won his next eight races and accumulated six Group 1 victories in 2009, including the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and the Eclipse Stakes.
He became the first colt to accomplish the treble since 1989, beating fantastic horses such as Conduit, Rip Van Winkle and many others.The champion three-year-old then went on to claim the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
In his final career start, Sea The Stars was sent off 4/6 favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and did not disappoint, powering through a tight gap to score by two lengths and cement his place as one of the greatest horses of all time. He was a superb horse who, despite having a hard season, kept on coming back and delivering the goods every time at the highest level. His win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on his last ever start was something to behold.
You don’t often see a great horse come out of Germany but Danedream was one of the exceptions. She is one of only two horses from Germany to have won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and her victory in the 2011 contest was outstanding. Danedream had already achieved two Group 1’s prior to that assignment, defeating 2009 and 2010 German horses of the year.
Despite Danedream winning two Group 1 races easily, she was still sent off at 20/1. Even so, Danedream went on to win the race by five lengths and the way she accelerated to put the race to bed in a matter of strides was something out of the ordinary. Not only did Danedream win the race easily, but she smashed the course record time at 2:24.49, which was set back in 1997.
The star German filly ran well in the Japan Cup to finish sixth and was brought to the UK to contest the King George Stakes at Ascot, where she was up against six different Group 1 winners. Danedream was galvanised by Starke in the final few strides to pinch the race from the gallant Nathaniel and win by a nose. She then returned to Germany for her second Grosser Preis Von Baden and won by half a length, taking her Group 1 record to five victories.
Danedream was scheduled to run in her second Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, she was banned from travelling due to the stable suffering an infection. However, she was a top-class mare and became the first German horse to win the King George and the Cartier Award and also the first filly to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the King George.
Sakhee was an American-bred racehorse trained in England by the legendary John Dunlop and Saeed Bin Suroor. He was a fan favourite and won eight of his fourteen starts, with the two highlights coming in 2001.
First was the International Stakes at York where he won by seven lengths and was subseuqently made favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, a race which proved to be his biggest and most notable victory of all.
Sakhee then travelled to Belmont for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and ran his heart out to finish second in a great battle. Agonisingly, Sakhee lost by a nose to dual winner Tiznow, who is one of America’s greatest horses.
However, Sakhee was on a different level to any other horse in the 2001 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The sheer brilliance he showed to win by six lengths under Frankie Dettori for Godolphin was astonishing. Not many horses in the history of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe have won by a greater margin and that is why Sakhee has made the list here.
It is very rare you see an undefeated Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner but Zarkava achieved that feat. She was an extraordinary mare who was trained by the legendary Alain de Royer-Dupre, representing the Aga Khan colours. She raced only seven times in her career but won all of them including Group 1 wins.
What made Zarkava even more special was the opposition she beat along the way, with the likes of Goldikova not able to get near the amazing mare. Impressively, Zarkava won every race by at least two lengths and her greatest victory came in the 2008 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
She was held-up in tenth place down the home straight and when Cristophe Soumillion angled Zarkava out for a run, the turn of foot and sheer power she demonstrated was unbelievable as she quickly put daylight between herself and the rest of the field.
Zarkava was then crowned European horse of the year and also European champion three-year-old filly before retiring with a perfect record. She was a very special mare, who was one of the most impressive winners of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
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