The first Sunday in October each year sees the eyes of the racing world turn towards the Paris track of Longchamp for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, one of the highest-class turf races held anywhere in the world. If focussing on 1m4f events, this contest has no equal, as the most talented contenders from all corners of the globe gather to determine who really is the greatest of them all.
Regularly drawing runners from the home nation, England, Ireland, Germany, and Japan, the contest sees the cream of the current Classic generation lock horns with the best of the older runners in training. Fillies, mares, and colts are all welcome, creating a field littered with Group 1 winners from far and wide. The tagline, “It’s not a race, it’s a monument!” is no exaggeration in the case of this contest, which towers over the European racing scene.
If the significant prestige isn’t enough, there is also the small matter of €5 million (2022) in prize money on offer – a sum which almost always places the Arc amongst the richest races in the world. A date pencilled into the diaries of connections of the top runners and leading riders, this is simply a race not to be missed.
See also: Arc Stats & Trends
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2023: Runners & Riders
A Racecourse Par Excellence
A race of such standing deserves a spectacular setting, and the Bois de Boulogne track of Longchamp duly provides it. Nestling under seven miles from the heart of Paris, the Eiffel Tower can be seen looming in the distance, at a venue with few equals on the global racing scene. Rich in history, the site also offers a thoroughly modern racing experience, thanks to a multi-million Euro upgrade, which took place between 2015 and 2018. No stone has been left unturned at a course which provides magnificent viewing, stunning grandstands, and top-of-the-range facilities.
The track layout is amongst the most complex in Europe, as five separate courses twist and weave across one another, with Longchamp’s greatest race taking place on the Grande Piste Course. The most expansive of the five tracks, the Grande Piste sets the field underway from a short spur leading into the back straight. The runners then twice cross the Petit Piste course before entering a long, sweeping bend, which slowly leads back towards the stands. Next up, runners follow a straight area of the track, referred to as the false straight, before a right-handed kink into the home straight proper, where the battle for the line and a place in the history books begins in earnest.
The Highlight of a Group 1 Feast
October is a golden period at Longchamp, with nine of the track’s 17 Group 1 contests taking place during the Autumn month. Kicking things off with a bang is the two-day Arc meeting, scheduled so that the feature event always takes place on the first Sunday in October.
Of the eight races on offer on the opening Saturday, five are rated at Group 2 level or above, headlined by the Group 1 duo of the Prix de Cadran and the Prix de Royallieu. Sunday then sees one of the classiest cards in the racing world, with the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, the Prix Marcel Boussac, the Prix de l’Opera, the Prix de l’Abbaye, the Prix de la Foret, and, of course, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, all falling into the Group 1 category.
An International Cast of Excellence
Given the standard of field it regularly attracts, it takes a special horse to declare itself the king or queen of the mile-and-a-half division. As such, it is no surprise that the roll of honour is littered with a selection of the most legendary names ever to take to the track.
Trempolino, Peintre Celebre, Montjeu, and Treve are amongst the most talented French-trained winners; the greatest Italian horse of all time, Ribot, won back-to-back editions in 1955 and 1956; Danedream sizzled for Germany in 2011; whilst the Irish-trained winners include Sinndar, Dylan Thomas and Sea The Stars. Next to France, Great Britain boasts the best record, with Mill Reef, Rainbow Quest, Dancing Brave, Golden Horn, and Enable amongst those to cross the Channel and plunder the prize.
Aidan the Derby King ably Assisted by Galileo
Leading the way in this racing league of nations, France also boasts the most successful individual trainer, with the great Andre Fabre lifting the trophy eight times between 1987 and 2019. Out on his own at the head of the jockey standings is a certain Italian, by the name of Frankie Dettori, who claimed Arc glory six times between 1995 and 2018.
Billed as a clash of the generations, the 21st century has witnessed a fairly even split between older and younger runners, with 13 of the 24 editions between 2000 and 2023 falling to a three-year-old and 11 going to a runner aged four or above. No horse older than five won over this period. Whatever the age, it pays to be drawn middle to low, with the track showing a distinct bias against those emerging from a high starting stall.