Arc triumph for classy Sagamix
ANDRE FABRE'S domination of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, at Longchamp, and his skill in preparing lightly-raced Sagamix, the 5-2 favourite to win yesterday's race, deprived brave British-trained Leggera of her moment of glory.
She failed by only a neck to lift the most important all-aged contest in Europe but earned great praise for her gritty performance.
When Richard Quinn drove the John Dunlop-trained filly into the lead over a furlong and a half out, there were genuine hopes of a British triumph. For several seconds, the decision to supplement her for around 40,000 looked inspired.
But her connections experienced the same feeling that those associated with a series of other notables, including User Friendly and Pilsudski, had suffered the sight of a rippling-fit, Fabre-trained runner overhauling their representative in the final furlong. These days, it is usually ridden by Olivier Peslier.
Thus Sagamix retained his unbeaten record and became the fifth consecutive favourite to lift the Arc, a fact that will not be lost on the legions of British punters who made the trip to Paris.
One must hand it to Fabre. By winning with Sagamix he became the most successful trainer in the history of the race, with five wins Trempolino (1987), Subotica (1992), Carnegie (1994), Peintre Celebre (1997) and now Sagamix, surely with more to come.
Dunlop was delighted with Leggera's performance, which added greatly to her value as a broodmare. She was in the front-rank throughout, racing along with Posidonas as they chased clear leader Happy Valentine, the Godolphin pacemaker. Sagamix sat in eighth, poised on the outside, tracking Sea Wave, while Epsom Derby winner High-Rise was on his inside.
Peslier sat quietly until the run up to the home turn, where he waited for a few strides until straightening to launch the grey colt with his final run down the centre of the track. Sagamix responded brilliantly, and just as Leggera was being hailed the winner, he surged into the lead 50 yards out.
High-Rise found it impossible to obtain a clear run in the last furlong with Mick Kinane searching in vain for an opening, several times appearing to have under him a colt with plenty still to give. High-Rise finished seventh, no doubt with many of his followers arguing that he never had a chance.
Equally perplexing was the run of Dream Well, whom Cash Asmussen asked to come from near-last on the home bend. Even after 100 yards in the straight, Dream Well only had one behind him, so his eighth placing almost defied belief. He picked up gradually but never really looked a winning chance. Sea Wave tired to finish ninth.
While recent Ascot winner Bianconi never got in a blow at surprise scorer My Best Valentine in the Prix de l'Abbaye, his younger stable mate Crystal Downs only failed narrowly to land the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac in a blanket finish to this valuable event for juvenile fillies.
Criquette Head's Juvenia became the fourth winner for the stable in seven years in the Marcel Boussac when just lasting home in front of Aidan O'Brien's Crystal Downs on which Michael Kinane produced a power packed finish that will probably have succeeded in a couple more strides.
This gallant effort combined with the creditable third placing for Michael Grassick's stable star San Sebastian in Saturdays marathon Prix du Cadran was a reasonable return for the small Irish contingent which competed at Longchamp over the weekend.
The Daily Telegraph