Donn McClean’s 5 Most Significant Renewals Of The Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe
The Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe is one of the most renowned and highly anticipated flat horse races in the world.
Held annually at Longchamp, in Paris, France this famous event has witnessed some remarkable showdowns between racing giants over the years.
In this article, we’ll delve into five of the most memorable renewals of the Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe, as captured by respected horse racing journalist, Donn McClean.
Among the numerous prestigious races that he has covered, the Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe holds a special place in his soul and betting sites have odds at the ready for this year's renewal.
Donn McClean, with his seasoned expertise and keen eye for detail, captures the essence of these extraordinary races, immortalizing the triumphs, surprises, and heart-pounding moments that have shaped the Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe into a timeless spectacle cherished by racing enthusiasts worldwide.
Dancing Brave, 1986
Dancing Brave won the Craven Stakes and the 2000 Guineas in 1986, and he finished second in the Derby, finishing strongly and just failing to catch Shahrastani. Then he won the King George, exacting his revenge on his Epsom conqueror.
Shahrastani ran in the 1996 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe too, as did Triptych, Shardari, Darara and Acatenango.
Also in the line-up was the French three-year-old champion Bering, winner of the Prix du Jockey Club and unbeaten in four runs that season. It was one of the deepest Arcs ever run up to that point.
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The race didn’t disappoint either. When Gary Moore produced Bering down the outside, it looked like his run was going to take him to victory in the Arc.
But if you looked further to the right, further to the right than even the camera person did at different junctures, you could see Dancing Brave and Pat Eddery in a momentum-generating rhythm that took them up on the outside of Bering and into the history books in a record time.
Carroll House, 1989
Michael Kinane first rode Carroll House when he ran in the Phoenix Champion Stakes at the Phoenix Park in September 1989, when Michael Jarvis’ horse stayed on strongly for his new rider to get up and beat Steve Cauthen and Citidancer, and it wasn’t surprising that the Irishman retained the ride for the Arc the following month.
Michael Kinane was, by and large, a well-kept Irish secret back then. Respected and revered at home, he was not the internationally-renowned jockey that he subsequently became.
Carroll House was the catalyst, the forerunner to Tirol, Belmez, Commander In Chief, Opera House, Grand Lodge and King’s Theatre.
And as the perennial Irish champion sat in the weigh room on Arc de Triomphe day 1989 and the rains fell around him, secure in the knowledge that his horse would appreciate every drop, and quietly listened as just about every other rider bemoaned the rain and the soft ground, he thought, you never know.
He rode his horse to maximise his strengths that day, as he always did. Delivered him with his run up on the outside, hit the front at the furlong marker and kept on to win by a length and a half.
Sinndar was only beaten once in his life. Winner of his two races as a juvenile, including the Group 1 National Stakes, he was beaten on his debut at three, when he was found out by the soft ground and the weight in the Ballysax Stakes, just caught in the final strides by Grand Finale.
The Aga Khan’s horse bounced out of that defeat though, and won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial before going to Epsom and winning the Derby, a first Derby for jockey Johnny Murtagh. Then he came back to The Curragh three weeks later and completed the Derby double.
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John Oxx gave him a nice break after the Irish Derby, before taking him to Longchamp for his Arc prep in the Prix Niel, which he duly won by eight lengths.
Then it was onto the Arc, where lying in wait was the monster Montjeu, winner of the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and the King George and the Prix Foy that season.
In the end, the anticipated duel didn’t really materialise, Montjeu under-performed, but you can only ever beat what they put in front of you and, on that day, in his final race, Sinndar did so with panache.
Sea The Stars, 2009
The talk in the enclosures during the preamble to the 2009 Arc was of just one horse.
If the will of the people could have been influential in the determination of the result of a horse race, there wouldn’t have been a need to even run the race that day. They didn’t even have to say his name. Hope he wins, was all they said. All nationalities. Hope we get the right result.
Sea The Stars’ career had funnelled into this point. Two wins as a juvenile, and then he embarked on that remarkable journey as a three-year-old.
The Guineas in May, the Derby in June, the Eclipse in July, the International in August, the Irish Champion Stakes in September. One Group 1 race a month between May and September, every month. Two Classics among them.
He arrived at Longchamp on Arc de Triomphe day in October, his sixth Group 1 race of the year, in six months, a bristling ball of health, the product of the John Oxx academy, probably the most important day of the trainer’s remarkable career.
It was a massive day for Michael Kinane too, who had happened upon this horse at this stage. All that he had achieved in his time in the saddle, all that he had accomplished, and he united with this extraordinary racehorse, Galileo’s brother, just as the winning line of his career was coming into view.
The crowd got the result that they craved as well, Sea The Stars by two lengths - he never won by much more - and John Oxx exhaled.
The 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was run at Chantilly, as Longchamp was tied up in its redevelopment journey to ParisLongchamp, and Aidan O’Brien ran three horses in the race.
Highland Reel had won the King George earlier that season, and had finished second in the Juddmonte International, and Order Of St George, the Irish St Leger winner of 2015, had won the Ascot Gold Cup. And yet, it wasn’t a surprise when Ryan Moore chose to ride Found.
Found had run in the Arc in 2015, when she didn’t get the run of the race and finished no better than ninth. She had proven that run to be all wrong three weeks later though, when she got the better of a duel with the 2015 Arc winner Golden Horn that lasted the length of Keeneland’s home straight to land the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
She was kept in training as a four-year-old, and she was kept busy. The Galileo filly was a remarkably tough and classy racehorse who thrived on racing.
She ran seven times in 2016 before she went to Chantilly, five times in Group 1 races, six times in Group races, and she never finished outside the first two in any of those six races. She was at her pinnacle in the Arc though, produced by her trainer at concert pitch on the day, and she put up a career-best performance to win by almost two lengths.
Her two stable companions chased her home, Highland Reel second, Order Of St George third, to bring up a remarkable 1-2-3 for Aidan O’Brien in Europe’s all-aged middle-distance championship decider.
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