O'Brien in Chantilly dreamland as Found spearheads Arc 1-2-3
Published 03/10/2016 | 02:30
Even measured against Aidan O'Brien's other remarkable achievements during his 20-year tenure of Ballydoyle, his annexation of the 95th Qatar Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe will perhaps go down as his greatest, after Found, a 6/1 shot, led home her stablemates Highland Reel and Order Of St George to fill the first three places in Europe's premier Flat race.
O'Brien is no stranger to saddling the first three in big races. He sent out the first three in the 1,000 Guineas back in May and, having saddled a 1-2 in the Derby, it is probably only a matter of time before he does it at Epsom.
Ryan Moore, the winning jockey, compared yesterday's feat, against the best middle-distance horses in Europe and never previously achieved in the long history of the Arc, to Frankie Dettori's Magnificent Seven 20 years ago and Michael Dickinson's first five home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
"It's one of those unique things," said Moore. "To have the first three home in the Arc, the hardest race to win in Europe every year, is incredible."
Dettori, who finished third on Order Of St George for O'Brien, said: "The guy's a genius." All three Ballydoyle runners were drawn wide, a perceived disadvantage, but it made no difference, particularly to the winner who, under Moore's steering, was soon on the inside rail having tacked over there behind the main bunch soon after leaving the stalls. Moore is not one to go any further than necessary.
Dettori stayed wide, while Highland Reel, awash with sweat as is his wont, was tucked in not far off Harzand's pacemaker, Vedevani, with Moore happy to sit in behind The Grey Gatsby, going the shortest way in about ninth.
Passing the Grande Écurie, however, Moore closed up on the leaders and was poised as the field swept into the straight. Here he moved off the rail into a gap between Order Of St George and Postponed, shot through it two furlongs out, and in no time at all had burst three lengths clear.
The jockey, who won the race on Workforce in 2010, had his second Arc wrapped up a furlong out. Highland Reel, the King George winner, stayed on gamely for second, a length and three-quarters away, with Order Of St George, the Ascot Gold Cup winner, a length and a half behind him having run the race of his life.
The first French horse home was 100/1 outsider Siljan's Saga. Postponed, the 15/8 favourite, just held on for fifth having failed to pick up like he usually does, while Epsom Derby winner Harzand ran flat down the field.
O'Brien, who won the Arc for the first time with Dylan Thomas in 2007, was modesty personified as always.
"Brilliant," he said. "I'm delighted. It's unbelievable. Ah sure, it's massive for the whole team. I'm just so privileged to be a small part of that team.
"Having the first three in an Arc is something you couldn't even dream. How could you say anything is higher than this?"
Adding to the great recent record for the fairer sex in race - six of the last nine winners have been fillies - Found has, for most of the season, been the bridesmaid, having finished second on her last five starts.
She was, though, the bride when it mattered, and throughout her career her best races have always been when the leaves start to fall. She won the Marcel Boussac at this meeting as a two-year-old, beat Golden Horn to win the Breeders' Cup Turf a year ago and was unlucky in last year's Arc after meeting traffic problems. Her second to Almanzor in the Irish Champion three weeks ago hinted that her body clock knew autumn was here.
Moore had no such trouble with traffic yesterday. "I had it in my head to get to the inside, and I had a very smooth trip. She travelled very strongly, a bit too strongly, into the straight. A gap opened a bit earlier than I wanted, I took the chance. She put it to bed very quickly."
With the Irish and British trainers' titles already in the bag, O'Brien cannot, despite picking up nearly £3.5m for yesterday's race alone, be champion trainer in France. That is about the only thing he left for the French yesterday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)