History of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

The first Sunday in October usually brings us the prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and this year is, of course, no different.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe horse race in 2019.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is universally acknowledged as the pinnacle race of the season in the Flat calendar, with a stellar list of winners, including the likes of Mill Reef and Dancing Brave along with modern greats such as Sea The Stars, Treve and Enable on the honours list.

Held each year at Longchamp racecourse on the outskirts of Paris, the Arc is the second-richest turf race in Europe with €5m worth of prize-money on offer. Moreover, winning an Arc is a hugely important step from a breeding perspective for prospective stallions and mares.

The Arc is run over a 1m4f trip on the right-handed Longchamp course and is open to horses aged three years and older, excluding geldings.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was first run on Sunday 3rd October 1920 and the inaugural running was won by Comrade, earning a top-prize of 150,000 francs.

Over the last century, the race has become the pre-eminent Flat race on European soil – a beacon of class and the prize which is routinely sought after more than any other by trainers from France, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Japan, the Middle East and Australia.

Fabre and Dettori Stand Out

Legendary French trainer Andre Fabre has won the Arc an unmatched eight times. His wins came with Trempolino (1987), Subotica (1992), Carnegie (1994), Peintre Celebre (1997), Sagamix (1998), Hurricane Run (2005), Rail Link (2006) and Waldgeist (2019).

John Gosden is the modern-day standard setter for UK trainers with three wins via Golden Horn (2015) and Enable (2017, 2018).

Ever the man for the big occasion meanwhile, no jockey has ridden more Arc winners than Frankie Dettori’s current tally of six. The veteran Italian has triumphed with Lammtarra (1995), Sakhee (2001), Marienbard (2002), Golden Horn (2015) and Enable (2017, 2018).

Winning multiple renewals of the Arc isn’t a regular thing, especially in the modern era.

Multiple Winners Few and Far Between

Ksar (1921, 1922) won two of the first three runnings, while superstar filly Enable (2017, 2018) is one of only two repeat winners this century, joining the outstanding French filly Treve, who scored for Criquette Head in 2013 and 2014.

In all, there have been just eight repeat winners with: Motrico (1930, 1932), Corrida (1936, 1937), Tantieme (1950, 1951), Ribot (1955, 1956) and Alleged (1977, 1978) joining the trio mentioned above.

Enable and Dettori finished second to Waldgeist in 2019 in her quest for an historic hat-trick, having led inside the final furlong on ground that was heavier than desired.

Treve, meanwhile, was fourth in 2015 seeking a third win as Golden Horn and that man Dettori dominated the finish.

In 2021, German raider Torquator Tasso caused one of the great Arc upsets, storming to success for trainer Marcel Weiss and jockey Rene Piechulek in defying odds of 80/1, ending a two-year winning sequence from the home team after Waldgeist and the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Sottsass had won for France.

One of the most enduring Arc storylines continues to be Japan’s quest for victory, a dream that remains unfulfilled as yet.

Enda is a journalist who specialises in horse racing, especially the action in the UK and Ireland, and has shared his racing betting tips on a number of well-known publications and websites over the last 10 years.
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