Golden Horn proved himself a class apart with a stunning victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
Many had hoped for a history making success for the wonderful Treve, but there can be no denying, that on the day that mattered, it was Gosden’s exceptional colt that proved to be in a league of his own. For months we had been told that the horse needed good ground or quicker to be seen at his best, and so it proved with the result never looking in doubt.
It was anticipated that an outside draw would cause jockey Dettori a major headache, but it seems rider and trainer had agreed on tactics to resolve this potential threat. From the off the Italian ploughed a lonely furrow away from the field. Gradually he steered the Epsom Derby winner across, joining the pack in a handy second position. So simple, yet so effective was the manoeuvre that in no time at all Golden Horn was in the perfect spot, poised to make his move whenever Dettori decided to press the button.
Whilst Gosden’s colt appeared perfectly placed, it’s probably fair to say that Treve, though ridden similarly to her win in 2013, was probably held a little too far off the pace. The winner along with Andre Fabre’s duo of Flintshire and New Bay, were able to get first run and somewhat got away from the flying filly. Try as she may, on ground quicker than ideal, she failed to land a serious blow, and though getting within a length of the runner-up, never seriously threatened the winner.
The result served to confirm the strength of the previous year’s Arc with the ever consistent Flintshire again finishing second with Treve a close fourth. Splitting those two was Fabre’s three-year-old French Derby winner New Bay. He looked a major threat turning for home, but lacked the finishing kick of the winner and had to settle for third.
It was another tremendous training achievement from Fabre. A year rarely passes when he doesn’t possess a major contender for the main event. Flintshire now looks likely to head to America for the Breeders’ Cup, whilst a decision will be made as to whether New Bay stays in training for another year, with the inevitable target being a second crack at the Arc. He’d surely prove to be one of the leading contenders with the race set to be run at Chantilly in 2016, the scene of his French Derby success back in May.
For Treve, the time has finally come to take up stud duties after a dazzling career on the track. Connections were clearly disappointed with the defeat, yet philosophical, with her trainer Criquette Head-Maarek saying: “We tried for the hat-trick and we didn't manage it but she is nevertheless still a champion. Thierry said she was a little less brilliant than usual. We mustn't look for excuses, we were beaten by a better horse on the day and that's all. She has still run a very good race.”
She retires having won nine of her 13 career starts, six of those at Group 1 level. Few would argue that she goes down as one of the all-time greats.
As for Golden Horn, Gosden’s hero retires to stud at the end of the season, but may now head for a final career run at the Breeders’ Cup in America. Much will depend on how he comes through his Longchamp exertions, but his trainer has a long and successful relationship with America’s stellar meeting and will be keen for one last hurrah. Gosden said: “He retires to stud and the owner is quite keen on the Breeders' Cup. It gives us one day short of a month, he's got a great constitution and he travels well. If he's in good order next week, there's no reason why he can't go there.”
The trainer then highlighted the likely target, saying: “I walked the turf and the dirt when I was at Keeneland the other day for the sales. He'd love the turf course and there's no reason for him not to run in the Turf.”
Whatever lies ahead for Golden Horn, his place in history is already assured. The son of Cape Cross has had a sensational career on the track, and the chances are that he will prove just as potent at stud.