Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe provides sweet return for Jarnet and Treve

Treve became only the sixth thoroughbred to defend the crown at the world's most valuable turf race on Sunday in Paris.

France's Thierry Jarnet on Treve crosses the finish line to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at the Longchamp racetrack near Paris on Sunday. Benoit Tressier / Reuters / October 5, 2014
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Paris // It was an experience that jockey Thierry Jarnet had already been through, but no sooner had Treve swished past the post to become only the sixth thoroughbred to defend its crown in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the grizzled veteran could not help but burst into tears.

Winning the world’s most prestigious and most valuable turf race once is enough for anybody, but Jarnet and Treve have been through a lot together these past 12 months and have absorbed the slings and arrows that come with under-performance at the top level.

It was the pair’s first win together since they slammed Orfevre by five lengths last year, and the 47-year-old jockey felt the weight of 93 runnings of this grand race on his shoulders as tears streamed down his cheeks.

“It is a huge part of history and only a couple of horses have won it twice,” he said. “People keep asking me when I am going to retire, but after days like today I don’t really want to.”

Jarnet reprised the ride from Frankie Dettori before the Prix Vermeille last month, a prep race in which Treve finished fourth. After the race there were calls for the filly to be retired, but trainer Criquette Head-Maarek insisted to owner Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad that Jarnet be reunited with her stable star.

In truth, Treve was so good that virtually any professional rider could have won on her, and as she powered up the rail the grandstand erupted. At the line, there were two lengths back to fellow French challenger Flintshire.

Treve’s well-documented back and feet problems have been a mainstay of this season, but her defeats to Cirrus Des Aigles in April and the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June will all fade into sepia and be forgotten.

Her success, however, will live long in the memory.

“After the Vermeille, people imagined the Arc would be too much for her,” Head-Maarek said. “I never lost faith in her. For me, it is the best race I have ever won for one reason: when you prep a horse with problems like that, to win again is a dream. I am not back on earth yet.”

The journey is lacking a full stop. Treve will not race on next year, but her trainer refused to rule out a trip to America for the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the month, or even the Japan Cup on the last Sunday of November.

Whether Treve will get the easier going she so craves at either of those venues, and her back problems demand, is another matter, but whatever happens Treve is in a fine position to create a dynasty of racehorses for the ambitious Sheikh Joaan, when she goes to paddock next season.

Sheikh Hamdan’s Taghrooda ran a brave race in third and will join Treve as a brood mare next year.

Taghrooda made a bold bid from her draw in Gate 15, and as she came charging down the centre of the track in the final 400 metres under Paul Hanagan, her connections felt that a first Arc success for Sheikh Hamdan was in the offing.

“She ran a fantastic race,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for Sheikh Hamdan. “She didn’t come down the hill well but in the straight I thought she was going to win. I think that will be it now and she can retire with her head held high.”

Treve was aided considerably by the pace set by Dettori, aboard last year’s Derby winner Ruler Of The World, and then Montviron, who was ridden by Cyrille Stefan as a pacemaker to Ectot, also owned by Sheikh Joaan.

Hanagan took up the outside position on Taghrooda ahead of German raider Ivanhowe, while Flintshire and Treve were locked together on the rail.

Jarnet kept skimming the paint on the inside and turning into the straight as Treve, Flintshire and Taghrooda all made their bids. As Taghrooda was pushed farther into the centre of the track by the tiring Ruler Of The World, Treve took the shortest route to victory.

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