Golden Horn justifies his owners bullish words with a romp in the Arc - By Tom Krish
Posted on - 08 Oct 2015
Golden Horn justifies his owner's bullish words with a romp in the Arc
By Tom Krish
It was another glorious day in Paris on Sunday October 4. It was Arc day. France’s most glamourous race attracts the French social elite. A big English contingent descends from England.
You can hear the ‘English’ chatter in trains-especially on Line 4 that takes one to Porte D’Autueil from where shuttle buses take the fans to, may be, 100 yards outside Longchamp. At the entrance, there are vendors selling the Racing Post, the British Racing Bible. More often than not, the Racing Post picks English raiders. May we call it jingoism?
There were no false rails. The going was officially ‘good.’ The temperature was hovering around 18 or 19 Centigrade. In my experience at Longchamp, it was the ‘most dry’ Arc I have seen.
Another thing I want to say has a sentimental undertone. Longchamp will undergo an extensive process of renovation. My belief is that the 2016 Arc will be held at Chantilly. It is a good 45-minute train trip from Gare du Nord, the main station in Paris. Chantilly is France’s primary training center. For sheer beauty and charm, Chantilly is peerless.
Yes, it was a bittersweet Arc for me and several others. A Treve victory would have been a highly emotional denouement. I have said often that races are run to determine winners. Treve did not make it. Thousands, though accepting the result, could not easily reconcile themselves. Golden Horn’s win, as magnificent and enthralling as it was, was overshadowed by Treve’s loss.
In 2010, when Zenyatta could not catch Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, I saw misty-eyed fans. Zenyatta had won all her 19 career starts and was going 20 for 20 and the Classic was her swansong. She was a stride short after a pulsating stretch charge.
It was a good start and one could see Frankie Dettori and Golden Horn in the mid part of the track as jockeys were trying to get vantage positions. A good 300 metres had been run when Dettori managed to drop into the second spot behind the Gregory Benoist-ridden Shahah, the pacesetter and Treve’s stablemate. In France and England, fractional times are not recorded. It was a brisk but not a fast pace.
As Shahah continued to show the way, with 1200 metres to run, one could see that Golden Horn was keen to go. Jockey Dettori, the master craftsman that he is, was able to contain his mount’s exuberance. Flintshire and New Bay raced in third and fourth. Treve, always three removed the rail, was about six-seven lengths off the lead.
The field took the final turn and Golden Horn was let go. The John Gosden trainee shot to the front and put some separation between himself and the pursuers. Flintshire and New Bay, the Khalid Abdullah runners, were making their bids but not gaining ground on Golden Horn. All eyes were trained on Treve. The daughter of Motivator who was a patent on her deadly (stretch) acceleration was not in her elements. She had taken the final turn very wide. Yes, Thierry Jarnet was working hard and the alarm bells were ringing and he began working harder. Golden Horn’s lead was not diminishing and it was clear with 200 metres left, the bird had flown and the 94th renewal of the Arc had been put to bed.
Golden Horn’s winning margin was two lengths. Flintshire, also second in the 2014 Arc, was a neck in front of New Bay. Treve was a nose behind New Bay. The time for the 2400-metre Arc was two minutes 27.3 seconds. Golden Horn returned 6.20 euros on the one euro wager. Will 52/10 explain it?
Anthony Oppenheimer, who had the courage to supplement colt, was rewarded with 2,214,728 (British) pounds. Cape Cross is Golden Horn’s sire. Fleche D’Or (by Dubai Destination) is the mother.
I managed to ask Mr Oppenheimer this question at the post-race press conference. “ You have said all along that your colt will go to the Breeders’ Cup even if you finished second or third in the Arc. Are you coming to Keeneland”?
“Darley has bought 50% breeding rights. At this moment, I cannot tell. We will see how Golden Horn comes out of today’s race, then decide,” replied Mr Oppenheimer.
Here is trainer John Gosden’s statement. “Golden Horn went to the outside early and took second behind Shahah. Dettori wanted to stay out of trouble. I am happy to have come over and give my colt a chance. He was favored by ground conditions.”
Jockey Dettori is restrained in his comments these days but by no means laconic. He is mellowing with age. Sipping champagne, Dettori said, “he’s the best horse I have ridden. I wanted to stay out of problems. He is a champion. I rode him thinking he is the best in the Arc field.”
The most meaningful comment came from Christiane Head-Maarek. “Treve was beaten by a better horse. As simple as that. Golden Horn is a three year-old and unquestionably the best horse at the moment. I disagree that she was beaten because of the (firm) ground. Perhaps she was less well today than when she rain in the Prix Vermeille. No excuses for me, this is a page that turns. But that’s life. Treve was an incredible adventure and and was able to bring the public to the races. Forever, she will remain a champion.”
The above paragraph captures the essence of horse racing. We run races because we do not know the results. The best horses get beaten for a variety of reasons and some of them are not easily found and understood.
Golden Horn has had eight career starts. He has won seven times. He was second once. William Buick was the rider in Nottingham when Golden Horn broke the duck. In the third start in the Dante, Buick and Golden Horn beat Jack Hobbs and Frankie Dettori at York in May. Golden Horn’s only loss came in York’s Juddmonte International in August when Arabian Queen, Silvestre de Sousa up, lowered his colors. After winning the controversy-filled Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in early September, Golden Horn has become the top-rated grass horse in the world after winning the Arc. The Cape Cross colt is a 4/5 chance for the Breeders’ Cup Turf in Keeneland on October 31.
I met Silvestre and spent a few minutes with him. He is the champion British rider in 2015. David Allan joined me and Silvestre for a few moments. David looked absolutely fresh after his successful Hyderabad visit. He won the Hyderabad Deccan Derby for Padmanabhan. I took some pictures with Olivier Peslier, my dear friend.
Silvestre will be riding in New York and Florida this winner.
I met MrPadmanabhan. MrSurender Reddy was there. I saw Vivek Jain, ZavaryPoonawalla and Mr Engineer, Secretary of the RWITC. There was a large Indian presence.
We head to London on Thursday October 8. I will try to go to Newmarket on October 10 for the Dewhurst Stakes and the Cesarewitch. I will be at Ascot on October 17 for Champions’ Day. Silvestre will be crowned the British champion that day.
In late October, I have a four-day visit to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup. With the prospect of Golden Horn coming for the 2400-metre Turf and the American Pharoah-Beholder clash in the 2000-metre (dirt) Classic, what better fare can one ask?
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views.)