QATAR PRIX DE L'ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Longchamp, 5 October 2014
Sent off at odds of 14-1 that would have been scarcely believable 12 months ago, Al Shaqab Racing’s Treve (Fr) (Motivator) once again turned Longchamp’s G1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe into a procession to become only the seventh horse to win the great race twice, and the first since Alleged in 1978.
Unlike last year when she was trapped outside, the bay - who had been winless in three starts in 2014 - was buried on the rail throughout and it was clear in early stretch that Thierry Jarnet’s only problem was when to let her fly. Striking the front passing the quarter pole, the filly who had looked a shadow of her former self when only fourth in the G1 Prix Vermeille over this track and trip last time on 14 September reproduced her renowned dynamism to put her rivals to the sword. At the line, with her rider saluting the crowd, she had produced a remarkable career finale with a comfortable two-length margin to spare over Flintshire (GB) (Dansili), with Taghrooda (GB) (Sea the Stars) 1 1/4 lengths behind in third.
"With all the problems we have had, I found it tricky dealing with the people who said she should be retired already," an emotional Criquette Head-Maarek commented. “Last year I thought she would win, but this year I was coming with a filly who was not 100%. For me, she is a very special horse. Sheikh Joaan was very nice to me and never lost faith.”
“I’ve heard so many things, but today she has proved that she’s come back to her best,” Head-Maarek said. “When I saw her going so well in the false straight, I knew that she was going to win. We had a fantastic race along the rail, not wasting a meter and everything opened up in front. She has that fantastic turn of foot and that’s what she did again. I said to Sheikh Joaan after the Vermeille, ‘Please don’t rule her out. Let’s run her in the Arc and we’ll see’ and I really believed she could win again. Every time she had run this year, she had run worse than the time before, but you have to keep believing in what you do.”
Al Shaqab’s racing advisor Harry Herbert paid tribute to the trainer’s skills afterwards. “If we’d listened to Criquette all the way along, then we’d have believed it,” he said. “She’s a remarkable trainer and this is a remarkable filly. She has never lost faith in this filly and this week she called me and said, ‘Harry, I’ve just seen a piece of work and she’s definitely back’ so it was very exciting. This filly means more to Sheikh Joaan than any horse he owns and she carries the flag of a nation - of Qatar - with her. It was a remarkable performance, a brilliant ride and we don’t see animals like this very often. She’ll be retired now, as she has little more to prove. She has proved the doubters wrong and now she’s off to the Sheikh’s stud and we’ll decide on her first husband.”
Herbert also paid tribute to veterinarian Duncan Moir. “Duncan Moir, a vet with Al Shaqab, has done a remarkable job to get her back and feet right,” he said. “There are so many people involved and I’m just a spokesperson, but I have to tell you how incredible the people behind this filly are.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News