With 7 Group Ones and four Group 2’s spread over the Saturday and Sunday, Arc weekend is as good as it gets in Europe. All age groups, all distances all sexes are catered for with championship honours up for grabs. This years results threw up a lot of surprises with plenty of items to debate.
A good weekend for
1. French trainers- only two races went to overseas trainers with Paco Boy winning for Richard Hannon and Lady Marian for Germany. It probably emphasises that Arc weekend is the ultimate target for many French trained horses whereas it is often coming at the end of a long hard season for Irish and British trained horses who had peaked earlier in the summer
2. Juddmonte. A stellar weekend for Juddmonte stallions with Zamindar’s daughter Zarkava’s win in the Arc reinforcing her superstar status. For good measure Beat Hollow emerged from the doldrums with Proportional putting up a very impressive performance in the Prix Marcel Boussac to give him his first Group One winner. The jam on top was provided when Naaqoos won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere giving Oasis Dream his first Group One winner.
3. The Aga Khan’s methods. Zarkava represents a triumph for the Aga Khans belief in certain families. It is remarkable that her 10th dam is his grandfathers foundation mare Mumtaz Mahal and her fifth dam is Oaks and Guineas winner Petite Etoile a filly Lester Piggott regards as the best he ever rode. Despite a number of moderate non-entities since Petite Etoile the Aga Khan never loses faith in his families and got his just reward with a great performance from the best filly since Miesque.
4. Dyhim Diamond. The unherealded Dyhim Diamond had a sparkling weekend that emphasised his versatility. Firstly five year old Bannaby won the 20 furlongs Prix de Cadran defeating Yeats and on Sunday Milanais came within a neck of winning the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. Dyhim Diamond was a son of Night Shift who never won above Group 3 level, but previously gave notice of his ability to upgrade his mares with the exploits of Prix Jean Prat winner Turtle Bowl. Dyhim Diamond stood in France for €2000 at Haras de la Tuilerie, but is now plying his trade in Haras de Ulzama in Spain. This weekends results might see efforts to repatriate him to France.
5. Nayef. Lady Marian’s win in the Prix de l’Opera caps a fine year for the Shadwell stallion who has emerged as an important sire as earlier highlighted by Tamayuz’s Group 1 double and Spacious runner-up slot in the 1000 Guineas. His fee has been increased to £15000 for next year but that still represents tremendous value.
6. Desert Style. Paco Boy provided Desert Style with his second Prix de la Foret winner in three years, following in the hoofprints of Caradak. He has always been an inconsistent sire but is well capable of getting a top class performer such as Mandesha and Bachir. At a fee of €12,000 he could no longer be considered cheap but this was a nice reminder of his ability.
1. Coolmore. Amazingly Peintre Celebre’s son Trincot’s victory in the Group 2 Prix Dollar was the only pattern success for a Coolmore stallion at the weekend.
2. Ballydoyle/Aidan O’Brien. Before his horses left Tipperary Aidan O’Brien would have expected at least two Group One wins with hopes of adding another one or two. He left with none after odds-on defeats for Yeats and Mastercraftsman and disappointing runs by Duke of Marmalade and Moonstone. Only Soldier of Fortune performed with credit. His odds of reaching the record of 26 Group ones in a season lengthened after the weekend.
3. Gallic Farce: The failure of Fleeting Spirit’s stalls to fully open in the Prix de l’Abbaye led to a false start. Unfortunately a number of jockeys didn’t notice the false start flag and Hungarian superstar Overdose ran flat out for the five furlongs ‘winning’ the race in a time just outside the course record. Had he triumphed it would have been a real fairytale success for an unwanted son of Starborough who cost just £2000