The domestic flat season is all but over and done with by the time we reach late September/early October each year, with the thoughts of British racing fans turning to the looming National Hunt campaign. However, the international flat calendar is far from finished, with the Breeders’ Cup Festival and the Melbourne Cup still to come.
Before those significant US and Australian highlights, however, we have the small matter of the greatest 1m4f event on the planet, as the Paris track of Longchamp plays host to the prestigious Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe once more.
Offering €5m in total prize money and open to colts, fillies, and mares aged three years and older, this historic event invariably attracts a talented cast of the latest superstars from the Classic generation and the best older horses in training. Here we look back at the 23 editions of the race from the current century and highlight a number of trends which may be useful when looking ahead to what promises to be a thrilling 2023 renewal.
The home team have held their own in the current century, with French-trained runners sitting in a tie with the British raiders on seven wins apiece. With the Irish chipping in with four wins, just under half of the past 23 editions fell to a runner familiar to British and Irish racing fans, including superstars Enable and Sea The Stars.
Germany has also fared notably well from a comparatively small number of runners, with the one glaring omission from the list being Japan. Trainers in the Land of the Rising Sun covet this prize above all others and invariably send over at least one of their highest-rated performers but, as of 2022, they are yet to claim the prize. Having made such an impact at the Dubai World Cup meeting and the Breeders’ Cup Festival in recent seasons, could 2023 finally be the year they get themselves on the scoreboard?
Age of Winner
Aided by the six pounds weight for age allowance, the Classic generation has held sway in the current century, with Epsom Derby heroes Sinndar (2000), Sea The Stars (2009), Workforce (2010) and Golden Horn (2015), and Oaks queen Enable (2017) amongst the dozen three-year-olds to have come home in front.
Overall, 20 of 23 editions (86.96%) have fallen to a runner aged three or four. Marienbard (2002), Waldgeist (2019), and Alpinista (2022) all struck a blow for the five-year-olds, but the last runner aged six or older to come home in front was the seven-year-old Motrico back in 1932.
The soon-to-be-retired Frankie Dettori has a phenomenal 26% strike rate in this event in the current century. Having also entered the winners’ enclosure aboard Lammtarra in 1995, he sits out in front as the most successful rider in the history of the race. Gearing up for one last shot in 2023, could Dettori make it a Lucky Seven before hanging up his silks? Having enjoyed such a phenomenal final season to date, you certainly wouldn’t put it past him!
Of those jockeys still active, only Christophe Soumillon and Ryan Moore have claimed the prize on more than one occasion.
John Gosden sits in a tie with Saeed bin Surroor – who also won in 1995 with the aforementioned, Lammtarra – for the most wins by a British-based trained. It is, however, French master Andre Fabre who is well clear in the all-time list with eight wins, the most recent of which came with Waldgeist in 2019.
Aidan O’Brien always sends over a strong team but hasn’t achieved anything like the level of dominance witnessed in the biggest British and Irish events. That said, the master of Ballydoyle did record a remarkable result in 2016, when his three representatives, Found, Highland Reel and Order Of St George, finished first, second, and third.
Stall 6 has proven to be the magic box in recent years. Discounting the 2016 and 2017 editions held at Chantilly, six of 21 winners (28.57%) have emerged from stall 6 – a remarkable stat in a race which usually sees 14+ runners go to post. That recent pattern is most likely one of those statistical aberrations which crop up from time, but mid to low does seem the place to be, with only five of 21 winners having overcome a wide draw. Given the right-handed turns and frenetic battle to get to the inside of the track, the bias against those drawn high is understandable.
Fate of the Favourites
The past 23 editions have seen six market leaders come home in front. That’s a respectable strike rate in such a competitive race, but one which would have handed jolly backers a loss of £7.30 to £1 level stakes over this period. The shortest-priced winner since the year 2000 was the remarkable Sea The Stars, who completed a perfect three-year-old campaign when storming home at odds of 4/6 in 2009.
Overall, 15 of the past 23 winners have returned a single-figure SP, suggesting the market is generally a solid guide. However, there have been a number of surprise results, including the wins of Danedream at 20/1 in 2011, Solemia at 33/1 just one year later, and, most shockingly of all, German star Torquator Tasso who defied odds of 72/1 in 2021.
Galileo Makes His Presence Felt
Finally, for fans of pedigree trends, the Galileo breeding line has been worth keeping an eye on in recent times. The much missed Coolmore flagbearer sired 2016 and 2019 winners Found and Waldgeist; back-to-back 2017 and 2018 winner Enable was by his son Nathaniel; 2020 champ Sotsass was out of the Galileo mare, Scarlet’s Sister; and Galileo’s greatest son, Frankel, sired 2022 heroine Alpinista.