Treve scored a magnificent victory by five lengths in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp racecourse, France.
Treve blew away an elite field and now has a chance to go down as one of the best fillies in recent history after winning the Group 1, $6,254,439 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday at Longchamp by five lengths.
Treve, undefeated after five races, became the third straight 3-year-old filly, following Danedream and Solemia, to capture the Arc. Three-year-old fillies get a double weight break for age and sex in the race, and Treve carried 119 pounds compared to 131 for Orfevre, who finished second in the Arc for the second straight year, edging French 3-year-old Intello on Sunday.
Thierry Jarnet rode Treve, picking up the mount last week when Frankie Dettori, aboard for Treve’s win in her Arc prep last month, broke his ankle. It was the second Arc win for the 46-year-old Jarnet, whose other Arc triumph came back in 1994 with Carnegie. Jarnet rode Moonlight Cloud to a spectacular victory in the Prix de la Foret later on Sunday’s card.
Treve also provided trainer Christiane Head-Maarek with her second Arc win. Her first, in 1979 with Three Troikas, was even more distant than Jarnet’s. Head-Maarek, the daughter of legendary French horsemen Alec Head and the sister of former jockey and trainer Freddie Head, had not won a Group 1 race for three years until Treve captured the French Oaks in June.
Treve was bred by Alec Head and owned by the Head family through that Oaks win, but Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al Thani of Qatar purchased her privately in July, leaving Treve in the care of Head-Maarek, but changing riders from Jarnet, who had ridden Treve in her first three races, to Dettori, Sheikh Joaan’s stable rider. Dettori had ridden Treve to victory in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille last month at Longchamp.
Treve raced only once at 2, owing, her trainer has said, to a variety of minor ailments, but she has done nothing but move forward in four starts this year. Her Arc post position, 15, was thought to be a major impediment to success, with draws inside 10 considered far superior to the outside gates. Indeed, Treve lost a tremendous amount of ground in the race, but that proved no hindrance whatsoever.
As Joshua Tree led through the early and middle stages, tracked by Ocovango and Penglai Pavilion, Treve was held up near the back of an 18-horse field, fanned at least five paths wide around the right-handed bends on the 1 1/2-mile course. Jarnet never could find much cover, and Treve began moving up a half-mile out while still caught very wide. She reached the leaders three furlongs from home, made an early bid to seize command of the race with a quarter-mile to go, and flew through the stretch to win in the most convincing fashion. She was timed in 2:32.04 for 12 furlongs over soft going, and paid $11.60 to win in North American betting.
“She was all the time on the outside, but she’s so good – she’s incredible,” said Head-Maarek. “To do that, to be unbeaten like that, she’s the best I’ve ever had.”
Treve, a daughter of Motivator, might not race again in 2013, but she is expected to return for a 4-year-old campaign next season, though it is difficult to imagine the filly improving much over her blistering 2013 form.
For Orfevre, it was a second straight defeat as the Arc favorite, though this one far less dramatic than last year’s, when he stopped in deep stretch after taking a convincing lead. Orfevre also raced wide throughout his trip Sunday, and was caught in very tight quarters on three occasions during the race’s final five furlongs. But Orfevre had a clean run in the final quarter-mile and could make no ground on Treve, while edging clear of Intello for second.
Three-year-old Intello ran well in defeat, quieting skeptics who thought he would not stay 12 furlongs and finishing a neck clear of Orfevre’s 3-year-old Japanese counterpart Kizuna.
Other notable finishers were Al Kazeem (6th) Ruler of the World (7th) and Flintshire (8th).
Treve, ridden by Thierry Jarnet, who took over from Frankie Dettori after his heartbreak ankle break, the Criquette Head-Maarek-trained three-year-old was in a different class even to second Orfevre and third Intello.
Treve broke slowly and was rooted in the last four through the opening stages of the Arc, while at the front Penglai Pavilion, Joshua Tree and Intello all showed early speed.
Yet by the first turn Treve was already making eyecatching progress, picking off runners with a breezy nonchalance to move up menacingly on the outside.
The sheer extent of her dominance began to reveal itself as the turn to the straight approached.
Within 20 extraordinary seconds Treve went from near the rear to right on the shoulder of the leaders, without ever giving the slightest indication that the feat had required any effort at all.
It was, therefore, almost inevitable what happened when Jarnet asked his superstar filly to strike out for home and glory. She immediately shot clear of the pack, establishing a two-length lead in the blink of an eye.
Moments later she was followed from the pack by Intello, the French Derby winner, and Orfevre, Japan’s most famous racehorse, but there was an air of desperation about their pursuit when compared to the controlled fury of Treve’s acceleration.
They could not land a blow. Treve continued to draw clear all the way to the line, crossing into history with an astonishing five-length victory over one of the most talented Arc fields in years.
“The way she has won is absolutely brilliant,” said Head-Maarek.
“She didn’t have the best of luck in running. She never got any cover but no matter what numbers [she faces] and no matter the ground, it makes no difference.
“She is part of the family now and is like a sister to me.”
Head-Maarek also paid tribute to Dettori, who had ridden Treve to victory in the Prix Vermeille last month.
“I’d like to thank Frankie Dettori. I told him to give her an easy ride in her last race and to use no whip,” she said.
Dettori is retained rider to the winning owner Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani, one of several Qatari royals who have experienced an extraordinary rise to the pinnacle of the racing world in just three years.
Asked how he felt to have won Europe’s most prestigious race, Al Thani said: “I don’t have any words to describe it.”
Orfevre had suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the Arc last year and Japanese fans had again flocked to Paris in their thousands, hoping that he would be the one to break their nation’s Arc hoodoo at last.
He had all the qualifications of an Arc winner, but his bad fortune was to come up against a filly of unassailable brilliance.
Orfevre’s rider Christophe Soumillon said: “When [Treve] took off at the 350 metre mark she just left me behind and I knew it would be difficult to catch her. I just concentrated then on riding for second place.”
Al Kazeem, the Coral-Eclipse winner, ran a fine race to finish sixth on what trainer Roger Charlton said would be his final racecourse appearance.
“James [Doyle] said the lack of pace didn’t help him but he stayed on well and ran a great race. James was delighted with him and there aren’t really any excuses,” Charlton added.
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of seventh Ruler Of The World and 12th Leading Light, said it was a “messy race” and that both were running on at the death.
However, there were precious few hard-luck stories in the race, a testament to how impressive Treve was. She is 4-1 with Paddy Power and bet365 for next year’s Arc, but as short as 2-1 with William Hill, who call her “unstoppable”.