The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has been dominated in recent years by fillies and mares. Five of the last seven renewals have gone to the fairer sex.
All eyes will be on Treve this weekend, as she goes for a historic third success in Europe’s most prestigious race. An excited Criquette Head-Maarek spoke yesterday of her heroine: “I feel she's better than last year and, for me, she's back to her best, that's for sure. The turn of foot she has is incredible.” Of the prospect of winning her third Arc the trainer added: “It will place her on top because no horse has ever done this before. I do agree if she wins three Arcs she will be the greatest.”
But Treve isn’t the only female hoping to upset the boys at Longchamp. Aidan O’Brien is pinning his hopes on Found to add to her Prix Marcel Boussac victory at the meeting last October. If successful, she would be following in the hoof-prints of two more outstanding French fillies.
The Prix Marcel Boussac started out in 1969, giving juvenile fillies their own Group 1 event on Arc day. Then known as the Critérium des Pouliches, the race was won in 1972 by the outstanding Allez France. Bred in Kentucky, she was purchased by Daniel Wildenstein and was the springboard for his racing operation. In a stunning career which brought success in the French 1,000 Guineas, the Prix de Diane, Prix Vermeille and the Prix Foy, she had her finest moment when winning the Arc at Longchamp in 1974.
In 2007 another French filly took the Boussac en-route to an undefeated seven race career. Zarkava was to become one of the modern day greats, returning to Paris in 2008 to become the first filly in 15 years to win the Arc. Turning for home, she looked in trouble, trapped behind a wall of horses. However, the calmest man in France, Christophe Soumillon, manoeuvred her into the open and she galloped her way to a famous victory.
Not only wonderfully talented, Zarkava was incredibly powerful for a filly, with a deep chest and huge shoulders. Her popularity in France was quite incredible, affection only rivalled in recent times by the mighty Treve.
And so on Sunday, Found will try and complete the Prix Marcel Boussac – Arc de Triomphe double, and thereby emulate those two famous fillies, Allez France and Zarkava. She defeated Ervedya at Longchamp a year ago, but has only won once in five starts as a three-year-old. A length behind Golden Horn in last month’s Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, she looks likely to renew rivalry with Gosden’s outstanding colt.
The Arc trip is something of a question mark, though O’Brien appeared hopeful when speaking on Sunday, saying: “I suppose her dam (Red Evie) was a miler, but she's by Galileo who is usually a big influence for stamina, so you'd think and hope she'd stay, but you can't guarantee it until they do it. She loved Longchamp last year and we said if everything went well we'd give her an easy enough spring and train her for the Arc for the second half of the season and that's what we've done.”
With history in the making, this weekend’s Arc is set to be one of the most thrilling for many a year.