Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
While British horse racing fans generally concentrate on the action taking place across the UK & Ireland, there are a handful of races around the world that also grab attention and of those the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is one of the biggest. The Arc takes place in October at the Longchamp racecourse in Paris, France. Due to the relatively small distance of travel compared to other big foreign meetings, we often see a large number of British raiders in Longchamp, not only for the Arc itself but for the whole two days and that variety of different races that take place.
Across the two days of the full meeting, prize money is very good and there are opportunities for all kinds of horse, from spinters all the way up to staying horses. The British runners usually perform well, and we have been known to bring home multiple wins from the meeting, something which is obviously good for punters as many will stick to the horses they know and back the British runners to beat their French counterparts.
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
the race is commonly known as the Arc, rather than using its full title, and this is a race that really stands out in the worldwide horse racing calender. The distance of the contest is 1 mile 4 furlongs, which is prime distance for many of the worlds best horses, something that helps it attract both the quality and quantity of runners that it does. We see many of the big races in the world ran over distances between 1 mile and 1 mile 4 furlongs, which is something that forces breeders to actively pair together horses with this in mind. Of the races at those kinds of distance, the Arc is one of the biggest and most prestigous, and one that breeders are thinking about when they are putting their plans together.
In terms of its place in European horse racing, the Arc is probably the second most prestigous race we have behind the Epsom Derby, which is solely restricted to three year olds. This means that as far as older horses go, this is the one prize they all want to win, the best race in Europe. In terms of prize money, the race is the second richest contest in the world, behind The Everest, which is a sprint race in Australia, usually ran a week after the Arc as their season down under gets into full flight. The combination of being prestigous in terms of what it does for horses and their value in the breeding barn, and the actual prize money on offer for owners highlights just what a special race this is, and why we see large fields every single season trying to land the first prize.
The race is open to horses aged three year old and up, so we usually get a situation where the best three year olds of the season are taking on their elder counterparts, sometimes for the first time depending on their path to the race. The youngsters get a little weight allowance to help them go up against the older horses, while the fillies and mares also get an allowance in the race to keep them competitive. If we have a superstar mare such as Enable, then when they run as a three year old they get the allownce for being three plus the allowance for being a filly, something which helped her to success in 2017 when she won her first Arc title.
One small side note and point to make about the race is that geldings cannot run in it, meaning the race consists of colts, fillies and mares. This ensures that every winner of the race still has a possible breeding career ahead of them, something that adds to the prestige of the race when it comes to their offspring being sold at sales.
History of the Race
The first running of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was back in 1920, on Sunday October 3rd of that year. Traditionally the Arc is ran on the first Sunday in October, something that has never changed since it began all those years ago. The race got its name from the famour monument in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe, a place that saw huge celebrations in 1919 at the end of World War I. During the second World War the race was cancelled twice and moved on other occasions to Le Tremblay. After the war, the French government continued their backing and sponsorship of the race through their lottery, which gave the race a huge first prize of 50 million Francs and it was this move that began attracting visitors from afar as they tried to win the big pot. Since 1982, private companies have sponsored the race and due to that, the prize money has been able to continiue growing, which has enabled the race to continue attracting an international field.
The race has moved away from Longchamp racecourse once since the war and this came in 2016 and 2017. In those two years, due to redevelopments beign made to the racecourse, the race was moved to Chantilly before moving back to Longchamp in 2018.
Eight horses have won this race twice in their career, with seven of the eight managing to win back-to-back titles. These are some of the biggest and best names in racing, mainly due to their achievements in this very race.
- Ksar - 1921 & 1922
- Motrico - 1930 & 1932
- Corrida - 1936 & 1937
- Tantieme - 1950 & 1951
- Ribot - 1955 & 1956
- Alleged - 1977 & 1978
- Treve - 2013 & 2014
- Enable - 2017 & 2018
What Happened in the 2019 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe?
The 2019 running of the Arc was all about one horse and that was Enable. She had won the race in 2017 and 2018, and was specifically kept in training to try and become the first ever horse to win the race three times. She had been trained for the race, but had taken in and beaten some quality opponents on the way, she looked primed for a shot at it. Unfortunately though it wasn't to be for her, she was beaten for the first time since April 2017. The winner on the day was Waldgeist, a five year old trained by master French trainer Andre Fabre. He swooped down the outside to claim Enable and power away, recording a winning margin of one and three quarter lengths. The ground on the day was very testing, and it appeared that Enable just didn't quite get home on the surface, while Waldgeist relished conditions and stayed every yard of the trip well.
The great news for racing fans is that Enable will remain in training for the 2020 flat season, and her aim will once again be this race in October. Can she come back from defeat and win the race for a third time as a six year old? It will certainly take a huge effort and a special performance, but this is a special horse we are talking about, and all eyes will be on her to achieve the impossible in 2020.
Supporting Races at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Meeting
Thanks to continued investment in the whole of the card across two days, the Arc has moved from being an outstanding race to being an outstanding two day meeting. We have seven Group One races and a further four at Group Two level to look forward to and with all of these targets to choose from, including the big one itself, we see many UK trainers sending across multiple runners.
Day one of the meeting takes place on Saturday, and this is there to get racing fans excited about what is to come a day later. That isn't to say the racing is not quality though because it is, with the Group One races, the Prix du Cadran and the Prix de Royallieu headlining the first day. The Prix du Cadran brings together the best stayers in the game, with a tough test of 2 miles 4 furlongs ahead of them, this is certainly not a race for the faint hearted. The Prix de Royallieu is ran over the same course and distance as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, 1 mile 4 furlongs but this is a race that is only open to fillies and mares aged three year old and up. Those who think they have a mare who is just short of being top class and able to compete in the Arc will often find themselves choosing to run in this race instead of the big one.
Day Two has two of the biggest two year old races of the season on it, the Prix Marcel Boussac for fillies and the Grand Criterium for colts. Both races are ran over 1 mile and these often point us towards what is likely to be appearing in either the English or French Dery and Oaks races the following year. While the Arc is all about the present, these two races give us the chance to see stars of the future in action.
The Prix de L'Abbeye is certainly the fastest race on the entire card, run over the flying five here and this brings together the speedsters. It is also a unique race that offers two year old horses the chance to run against their elders, we usually see big races like this open to horses aged three and over but this is one of the few exceptions we have.
The Group One Prix de L'Opera and Prix de la Foret offer the chance to run for horses who won't get the 1 mile 4 furlong trip of the Arc, these races are over 1 mile 2 furlongs and 7 furlongs respectively. Perhaps the most interesting addition to this meeting in recent years has been the Arabain World Cup, a race that showcases pure Arabain bred horses and gives them a huge prize to aim at.
In the middle of all this is the big one the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the race that gains the greatest attention of them all.