Few would have believed it possible, but for Aidan O’Brien and his Ballydoyle operation there appears no limits to the extraordinary level of success they are capable of achieving year upon year.
Having plundered the major prize at Newmarket on Saturday with the staggeringly progressive filly, Alice Springs, O’Brien then captured Flat racing’s most prestigious event with arguably the best filly in training, Found. But not only did the master of Ballydoyle take first place in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, he captured the first three spots with his trio of entrants.
Travelling powerfully in a prominent position, just behind the leading group, Ryan Moore made his bid for glory a couple of furlongs from home. Bursting past race favourite Postponed, the classy filly swiftly put lengths between herself and the remainder. Stablemate Highland Reel gave chase without ever looking likely to catch the filly. And it was left to the Ascot Gold Cup winner, Order St George, to complete the O’Brien rout.
In truth, Found looked a cut above the rest, and though she has a CV stacked with runner-up spots, she’s been performing at the highest level throughout her career, ‘mixing it’ with the middle-distance elite. Her victory over the Arc hero Golden Horn at last year’s Breeders’ Cup was the best form on show, and just last month she had finished second in the strongest looking Irish Champion Stakes ever.
Part-owner Michael Tabor, speaking to At the Races, was clearly struggling to comprehend the team’s achievement when saying: “I can't believe it. First, second and third in the Arc, it's unbelievable. It's just incredible. Words can't describe it. It's just amazing.”
And the trainer’s thoughts mirrored those of the owner, when O’Brien said of the success: “She's only run over a mile and a half four times before and she was unlucky in the Arc last year. We've had our eye on this for a long time. It's a privilege to be here and be part of it. I couldn't dream this would happen. You know how difficult the Arc is. And what makes it amazing is that they (the first three home) are all by Galileo.”
And whilst acknowledging the astounding work of O’Brien and his team, there’s no doubting that the greatest Stallion, is driving this unprecedented success.
On Saturday, three-year-old filly Alice Springs, another from the Galileo production line, proved herself one of the outstanding milers of her generation, when winning the Sun Chariot Stakes. She’s continued to improve throughout the campaign, and this latest success never looked in doubt. Godolphin’s Always Smile battled all the way to the line, but found herself trying to fend off an irresistible force. This was her eighth outing of the season, and she may well head to the Breeders’ Cup before taking a well-earned winter break.
Ryan Moore was clearly pleased with her performance. Speaking to Channel 4 after the win, he said: “She picked up very well but she was just dossing a bit. As soon as I got serious with her though, she found a bit more. She's a very good filly.” Of a trip to America he added: “She's very well balanced and very professional. She was second in the fillies' race at Keeneland last year when the ground went soft and didn't really suit her. Santa Anita should suit her better.”
Ervedya proved the best of the French challenge with a third placed finish. She could never quite get to the leading pair, and this looks set to be her final race, with a career at stud beckoning. Of his classy filly, Jean-Claude Rouget said: “She ran very well and I think that will be it for her now. This year she has been third in a Jacques le Marois and now third in a Sun Chariot. She deserves to go to stud and I hope she can produce a champion.”
Of the new Arc heroine, a trip to the Breeders’ Cup may also be on the agenda, though the Coolmore camp were understandably reluctant to map out plans in the immediate aftermath of such a sensational afternoon. Ryan Moore preferred to speak of the here and now, when saying: “To saddle the first three in an Arc, and to get three horses there in top shape and beat the best around, is quite incredible. She was in her best shape today and things worked out, back to a mile and a half and a nice, evenly-run race. She showed what she is capable of, and at her best she is a very hard filly to beat.”