Arc favourite Treve looks unstoppable in trial victory
If Treve can manage a repeat of yesterday's performance at Longchamp in three weeks' time, a third Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is closer to a formality than a possibility, with bookmakers offering the mare at odds-on.
That she won the Prix Vermeille by four-and-a-half lengths was striking enough. What left a more lasting impression was that Thierry Jarnet could not contain her. Treve was pulling so vigorously, she drew close to her pacemaker before the home straight and had stormed clear with two furlongs left to run.
Sometimes, performances can be too good to be true. But trainer Criquette Head-Maarek has a wealth of experience and guided Treve through a patchy 2014 when she was fourth in this race.
This time around, the five-year-old has been flawless in a campaign geared around an unprecedented third Arc, an achievement that would rank as one of the finest in history.
Asked if she had anticipated fireworks, Head-Maarek said: "I thought she would [win like that]. You can't say she is a sure winner of the Arc. She loves the place and has a lot of things going for her.
"I've never had a horse that can travel at any pace and quicken like that. She ran like in the Arc in 2013 [when beating Orfevre]. She's better than last year."
Head-Maarek also laughed off suggestions Treve could be kept in training at six, leaving such decisions to owner Sheikh Joaan.
There is still work to be done, with John Gosden's pair Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs strengthening their cases over the past week. Arabian Queen, which ruined the Golden Horn's unbeaten record in the Juddmonte International, was among those Treve demolished.
Arabian Queen's owner, Jeff Smith, said: "Treve is probably the best filly I've seen."
Coral is offering 10/11 on Treve, with William Hill 4/5. New Bay is 4/1 next best and would have been the talk of the Bois de Boulogne on another occasion. That seven-time Arc winner Andre Fabre had been steering the chestnut towards the race after a victory in the French Derby was a clue in itself, and he made a promising bunch of three-year-olds look very ordinary in the Prix Niel.
Teddy Grimthorpe, representing owner Khalid Abdullah, said: "He's had a very good trial for the Arc. We'll see how good he is in three weeks."
King George winner Postponed recorded the quickest time of the trials in the Prix Foy, but in more workmanlike fashion. Trainer Luca Cumani said he would approach the Arc "with trepidation and with realism" after watching the afternoon.
"He's not as impressive as a Treve or a New Bay but he does battle it out," he added ( © Daily Telegraph, London)