The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2016
By Kevin Cain
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is the world's most glamorous and prestigious horse race, and in 2016 for the very first time will move from Longchamp its home since 1920. There is no machiavellian reason for the departure, just that Longchamp is undergoing a major $145 million revamp.So where did the organisers choose to relocate this famous horse race? Really there was only one place that could host such an illustrious event, so naturally it is temporarily moving to the capital of the art of equestrianism, namely Chantilly.
Chantilly stands out thanks to its majestic chateau and world-renowned Grades Ecuries. The estate's racecourse boasts one of the world's most stunning courses. Which covers the required distance for The Arc, which is a mile and a half.The Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe brings together the world's most talented thoroughbreds aged 3 and over. And The Arc reflects this being the world's richest turf race, and after the Dubai World Cup it is the richest horse race in the world, this year the purse money will be over $5.5 million.
Every sport has its showpiece, Cycling has the Tour de France, Rugby and Football have their World Cup's and Racing has The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, there is no horse race in the world that quite compares to The Arc, and the jewel in the crown of the racing world is the climatic point of every racing season.There is a lot more at stake in The Arc than an over inflated purse awarded to the winner, the winner will be highly sought after as a stallion, or brood mare if female, and for good reason.
Racehorses are bred from a relatively narrow genetic pool, almost all of the world's half a million thoroughbreds are descendants from just 28 healthy, fit and fast ancestors born in the 18th and 19th centuries. And up to 95% can be traced to just one stallion – the Darley Arabian, born in 1700.
Owners and trainers of winning horses at top classic races are not just looking for prize money they are also looking for the preservation of thoroughbreds through breeding. In racing, yesterday's heroes often produce the stars of tomorrow, and the winners list of The Arc features many illustrious relations.The 1999 winner of The Arc, Montjeu, sired Hurricane Run, who won the event 6 years later. Urban Sea having been the first past the post in 1993, gave birth to Sea The Stars, who went on to win the legendary Group 1 race in 2009.Although genetics is not an exact science, it nevertheless goes some way to stamping out coincidence. It helps to have as much luck on your side when running the great race, but it is a well known fact that no horse has ever won The Arc by chance. Longchamp, and this year Chantilly, are not lottery National Hunt courses, they are purposely selective.
The course at Longchamp not only crowns the kings and queens of the turf on the first Sunday in October, but also the most knowledgeable racing professionals. The stables a horse comes from and the trainer preparing them is a huge factor in producing a winner.Considered to be France's best trainer, Andre Fabre has saddled 7 winners in The Arc, which is a shining example for other owners in the world. Marcel Boussac saw his colours triumph 6 times between 1936 and 1949.A victory in the grandest of races, earns the winner a place in the history books for eternity. Nearly half a century after the famous Ribot and Sea Bird took the laurels, racing enthusiasts still compare present day winners to the merits of those two legendary past victors.
The Arc is truly an international race by any standards, and although French trained horses usually win there have been 7 victories for English, Irish or German horses since 2000. Even the Japanese have embraced the race, proving that nowadays the racing elite do not hesitate to travel across the globe to take place in the world's most illustrious race.Last year's nail-biting edition of the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was won by Golden Horn and Frankie Dettori, so who will win this year's most coveted of trophies in 2016?
Presently, looking at the bookmakers odds and digesting all the relevant pre-race hype, everything seems to be pointing to a two horse showdown between Postponed and Harzand. Baring in mind that the race rarely throws up a bad winner, the vast majority of Arc victors were Group One winners before taking part in the race. Chantilly will require tactical speed, and one thing all winners have in common is a proper turn of foot at the end of the race.
Scrutinizing the recent runnings of The Arc the race has been dominated by the younger horses with 9 of the last 13 being aged 3 years old, while nine of the last 13 winners came to race winning the last time out, can the winner of the race for the past 2 seasons, Treve, be the first horse to win The Arc three times? Taking the above into account, two more horses look very interesting. Both Golden Horn and New Bay have the correct temperaments and attributes to do well at Chantilly and should not be lightly dismissed.
Whoever eventually comes out as victor of The 2016 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, it will be a deserved champion, one that has fused tactics, breeding and pure speed together to form an unstoppable, invincible hero of legendary prowess.