Here's hoping Treve can confirm Arc's eminence
The list of winners of the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe is like a roll call of the truly great horses of the past, Sea Bird, Ribot, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave and Sea The Stars among them.
But today at 2.55 our time (coverage on Channel 4) the French mare Treve bids to boldly go where no horse has gone before and win the Arc for the third time. It would be a remarkable achievement but then Treve is a remarkable horse.
No-one could have predicted that she would end up on the verge of making history when she was led out unsold at €22,000 at a 2011 yearling sale. But two years ago after winning the French Oaks she gave one of the great dominant Arc performances when prevailing by five lengths. And last year, after a rocky season had seen her largely discounted, she came good on the big day to win by two lengths at 11/1. This year she is unbeaten and is 11/10 with Paddy Power to complete the hat-trick.
Yet if Treve is to make it she will have to beat some top-quality opposition, notably Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn. The clash between the two has been spiced up by trash talk between their connections. Golden Horn's owner Anthony Oppenheimer insisted that, "I would be very surprised if we couldn't beat her and beat her well," which drew the riposte from Treve's jockey Thierry Jarnet, "I'm not so sure about that. When I saw his last race, I was not impressed."
There is also French Derby winner New Bay to contend with, while Irish interest will be maintained by Dermot Weld's Free Eagle and Aidan O'Brien's Found, which both gave Golden Horn plenty of it before eventually succumbing in the Irish Champion Stakes.
But all the attention will be on Treve, whose trainer Criquette Head is the only female trainer ever to have won the race.
It's been a good year for history making in the sport of kings, with American Pharoah becoming the first horse in 37 years to win the American Triple Crown. But a Treve victory today would top even that. Only three five-year-olds have won the Arc since 1950, which means time as well as powerful opposition is against her.
It would be great to see her do it. The Dubai World Cup may have overhauled it as the richest race in the world and the Breeders' Cup stolen some of its thunder, but there's still nothing quite like the Arc.
Sunday Indo Sport