Longchamp, was once again the venue of the richest European race – Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. While the 100th of the monument attracted such a high-quality field, including stunning three-year-olds and great older mares, it was German outsider Torquator Tasso who struck gold. For the third time in history, most of the purse of €5,000,000 went to Germany, but this result wasn’t the only surprising one of Sunday’s horse racing card by far.
Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere
Also, the second race of Sunday’s card suggested the favourites would face a huge obstacle in the heavy ground as Angel Bleu (11-2) definitely wasn’t the first choice in this G1 turf race for two-year-olds fillies and colts. The purse of €450,000 attracted a field of nine participants, including G1 winner Ebro River (42-10), who was about to run the distance of 7 furlongs only for the second time, unsuccessfully, though. Enthusiastic from the start, Ebro River just couldn’t cope with the going and weakened considerably in the final stage, unlike Angel Blue, who relished the very soft ground. Piloted by Frankie Dettori, the grey colt galloped in the sixth position until the final stretch, where he used the gap at the barrier and slipped past leading Noble Truth (32-5) to the first place. The Ralph Beckett’s British charge already had a G2 victory under his belt, moreover, on a soft surface, so he put up a professional performance when holding off Noble Truth till the very end by ¾ of a length. The Dark Angel colt crossed the wire in 1m 24.57s, showing that he surely belongs among the elite of two-year-olds on such a ground, while Noble Truth seems a promising prospect for Charlie Appleby, too. The local favourite, Ancient Rome (12-5), trained by Andre Fabre, managed to grab third place after finishing late from the rear of the field and navigating through the barrier of his rivals. His effort simply confirmed his affinity towards slightly longer distances, as he only narrowly defeated other late finishers, Accakaba (48-10) and The Wizard of Eye (71-1).
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The wealthiest European race went to Germany again after ten years. In 2011, the G1 turf even held at the distance of a mile and a half saw a victory of mare Danedream, while in 2021, even a huger shock happened at Longchamp as four-year-old Torquator Tasso (72-1) outrun hot favourites and earned most of the purse of €5,000,000. The chestnut trained by Marcel Weiss has belonged among the German elite since the beginning of his career, which he cemented when finishing second in the last years’ Deutsches Derby behind In Swoop. Since then, he won two G1 races in Hoppegarten and Baden-Baden, where he scored the prestigious Grosser Preis von Baden ahead of this year’s derby-winner Sisfahan. Still, his results were underestimated for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, given it attracted the star duo of Godolphin colts, Japanese mare Chrono Genesis (9-1), great Tarnawa (4-1), and also Snowfall (19-5) trained by Aidan O’Brien. However, Torquator Tasso left all of the mentioned rivals behind when he romped down the final stretch on the heavy ground he relished.
The chestnut son of Adlerflug broke well, and René Piechulek aboard settled him on the outside of the pack in the midfield, from where Torquator Tasso tried to make some impact in the final straight. At first, it seemed he was about to finish fifth or sixth, but a furlong and a half from home, the colt started to fly, swung by tired contestants, and unexpectedly joined the fight for the win in which he prevailed. Although he carried more weight than most of the field, representing the older colts and horses here, Torquator Tasso scored the most prestigious flat race in Europe in 2m 37.62s. Before he even looked like he could grab a place here; it seemed the 100th running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe would be won by one of the favourites. The Epsom Derby winner Adayar (18-5) led half the way and stayed on the front until his stable-mate Hurricane Lane (3-1) and five-year-old Tarnawa passed him by. The couple of chestnuts kept fighting for the win, and when it mattered the most, Tarnawa put her head in front of the Irish Derby winner; however, Torquator Tasso had already crossed the wire ¾ of a length by then. Both her and third Hurricane Lane showed their class together again with fourth Adayar, who disliked the false pace in the first part of the race. Outsider Sealiway (58-1) was the best of the locals in fifth when heading Snowfall, who displayed no spark again. Japanese mare Chrono Genesis basically drowned in the heavy ground and was seventh.
Prix de l’Opera
Not even this G1 turf race for three-year-olds and older fillies and mares was spared the surprising finish as most of the purse of €500.000 went to the connection of Rougir (229-10) trained by Cedric Rossi. On the distance of a mile and a quarter, Maxime Guyon held up the three-year-old chestnut at the rear, where Rougir settled and saved enough energy for the final stretch. The jockey then took her to the outside, and once the daughter of Territories had a clear path, she bolted forwards and left all preferred rivals behind. She had to fight for the most significant win of her career with Grand Glory (31-5), who also finished from the outside, but Rougir just headed her in the final stride. Despite the fact the winner was unexpected, it can’t be said it’s a fluke as the chestnut placed among the elite as a two-year-old; moreover, she finished fourth in the G1 Prix Rothschild in August. She hasn’t been able to strike gold even at G2 level, though, so some question marks were surrounding the first G1 scored sired by Territories, but her form just peaked during the autumn once again. Rougir delivered in the Prix de l’Opera in 2m 11.15s, while a trip to the Breeders’ Cup could be next on her agenda.
Five-year-old Grand Glory was just denied a hattrick as in July, she bagged a victory in ta G3 company, upon which she went on to outmatch Audarya (37-10) in the Prix Jean Romanete, where she achieved her first G1 success. If she continued her progress, she should’ve been the primary threat for preferred Audarya once again, and, indeed, she almost struck gold also on Sunday as her finish was eye-catching. However, she carried more than Rougir, which probably played its role and sentenced Grand Glory to second place. Still, she performed much better than twice mentioned favourite Audarya and it could be said her jockey underestimated the situation in the final stretch. Sitting patiently at the leader’s heels, Audarya was breezing back then, but once the jockey noticed the duo of finishing rivals on the outside, it was too late. He urged his mount to quicken up; Audarya couldn’t match their strides, though, and had to settle for fourth place as outsider Eudaimonia (49-1) outrun her as well. Thundering Nights (83-10) was fifth, while neither Classic winner Joan of Arc (9-1) nor promising Sibila Spain (5-1) managed to shine on Sunday.
Prix de la Foret
The whole illustrious weekend at Longchamp was concluded with this G1 turf race for three-year-old and older horses who clashed at the distance of 7 furlongs; moreover, it was the only G1 race on Sunday’s card won by a favourite. The very soft ground simply hindered the chances of the most preferred horses, so only British raider Space Blues (18-5) overcame the difficulties and scored the €350,000 event. The Charlie Appleby bound five-year-old chestnut has always been a classy specimen, but he hasn’t been able to show that very often due to his health issues. Still, he remained unbeaten last season in four starts, including the G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, to which he added a rich race in Riyadh. In the second half of 2021, Space Blue was pointed towards the Prix de la Foret in particular, having his prep race at Goodwood in August, which he won on good ground. The very soft surface wasn’t expected to be a problem for the chestnut as he’d succeeded on it in the past, so he headlined Sunday’s field of 14, while William Buick boasted confidence since the start. He let Space Blue gallop at the rear of the field and didn’t urge him to quicken up until the final furlong. Such a bold move suggested how much he trusted his mount, and Space Blues didn’t disappoint him as he picked up when asked, cruising along with his rival with ease and bagging the G1 victory like the champ he once again proved to be. Winning by 2 lengths, he crossed the wire in 1m 22.97s in front of Pearls Galore (77-10), who ran another big race in defeat.
The four-year-old filly finished in a close second in the Matron Stakes on the good ground last time out, while she showed her versatility when not being discouraged by the heavy ground at Longchamp. She travelled sweetly behind the leader and took the command in the final stretch, where she held off Japanese outsider Entscheiden (45-1) but couldn’t possibly match Space Blues’ finish. Other respected contestants, Kinross (37-10) and Sagamiyra (47-10) took fourth and fifth place, respectively.
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