Danedream comes true
THEY said a filly might win it -- but very few had Germany's Danedream in mind, which won yesterday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe by five lengths, and broke the Longchamp track record.
Prior to the immaculate Zarkava, in 2008, the Arc had last been won by a filly in 1993 -- and Urban Sea was so prepotent an animal that she has since given us Sea The Stars and Galileo. Moreover, you have to go all the way back to 1975, to Star Appeal, for the last German winner.
While fillies duly filled the podium, as some had anticipated, the identity of the runner-up was more outlandish still. Shareta had been treated as a pacemaker for Sarafina, but was ridden carefully after Treasure Beach hurtled into an early lead, and so held on for second. Of the more celebrated females in the line-up, only Snow Fairy enhanced her reputation in third, closing well after the winner had flown.
Best of the colts was So You Think, which was left with plenty to do after being dropped in by Seamie Heffernan from his difficult draw. Stablemate St Nicholas Abbey kept on steadily for a fine fifth, after briefly asserting in the straight, with Meandre and the favourite, Sarafina, closing upsides from midfield.
Galikova was nearly brought down as the field tightened, but the Japanese never got involved and Workforce ran poorly. Reliable Man, whose connections had been concerned about firm ground, beat only Masked Marvel home.
Though the track had been heavily watered, the turf baked through the afternoon and conditions doubtless contributed to Danedream's molten time. But there was less trouble in behind than had seemed likely, Galikova apart, and nobody could be deceived that there was the remotest fluke about what transpired.
Danedream had been improving so rapidly, winning a Group One prize by six lengths on her previous start on home soil, that her connections had paid €100,000 to supplement her to the field.
There had been doubt, even among those who recognised Danedream's form as better than the odds allowed, whether she would be comfortable with the conditions.
Settled behind the leaders by Andrasch Starke, she moved up powerfully in the straight and as she broke clear it was at once apparent that she would not be caught by the field.
The significance of her achievement was not lost on those who hopped and sobbed around their filly. Only Ribot, Sea-Bird and Sakhee had dominated an Arc more. Starke was still roaring even after he had dismounted. "I don't know what has happened," he said. "It's a dream come true."
Danedream is stabled with one of Germany's most accomplished horsemen in Peter Schiergen. "This is a big day for German racing," the trainer said. "And my best moment in racing. I don't believe it. She won her last two races very easily, but I didn't think she would be such an easy winner."
He hinted that Danedream will remain in training and not be seen again this year. But Ed Dunlop, proud of Snow Fairy's performance, will send her back to the Far East in the hope of repeating last year's conquests.
No doubt the Australians will be preparing fresh disparagement for the handling of their exported champion So You Think. "You had to make an early decision from that draw," Heffernan said. "And I wanted to make sure there was something left at the finish."
But a still more interesting change of environment beckons for So You Think now, having long looked a suitable candidate for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Aidan O'Brien will be consulting the horse's owners when the dust settles, but did not sound as though he would discourage the project.
"He's a big cruiser and I think he would handle the dirt no problem, but the boys will have to discuss it," the Ballydoyle trainer said. "It was the first time he'd run over that trip for us and he was coming home very well."
Perhaps his patrons will also extend their conversation to the example of Danedream. (© Independent News Service)