Mark Cramer
If Treve gets to post without a hitch, then the only horse that can defeat her is one that shows improvement.
— Mark Cramer / TDN

With Treve (Fr) (Motivator {GB}) going for an unprecedented third consecutive victory in the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the Paris-Turf is asking readers if this is the most important event in the history of French racing.

Imagine trying to bet this race. Would you back another horse and risk being ostracized from a potentially historic festival? The only thing missing from this supermare's well-deserved hype is the word inevitable, but inevitability pops out between the lines, and 4-5 begins to seem like a gift.

Treve entered last year's Arc following her three most disappointing career races, and still won it! Last year's Arc field was a notch above this year's, and yet Treve now enters the race following three impressive wins. Her G1 Prix Vermeille three weeks ago left the crowd breathless. Before that she won the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on a lefthanded track she does not favor and on a dry turf surface she is not supposed to like, defeating two firm-track specialists, Flintshire (GB) (Dansili {GB}), second to Treve in last year's Arc, and Dolniya (Fr) (Azamour {Ire}), a competitive fourth last year and winner over Flintshire in this year's Dubai Sheema Classic. Both Flintshire and Dolniya are in-the-money contenders, but do not project to defeat Treve.

Some observers at the final Arc workout at Chantilly perceived a halo floating above Treve as she galloped effortlessly. You could hardly see her feet touch the ground. But this is still a horse race and we must look at the other contenders. Leading the chasers is the G2 Prix Niel winner New Bay (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), looking nearly as impressive as Treve, same day, track and distance. New Bay's trainer Andre Fabre holds the record for the most Arc wins: seven. All of those winners came from Prix Niel victories, so it looks much like a pattern match. New Bay previously won the G1 Prix du Jockey Club. He was star-crossed in his only loss, when he finished an impressive second.

Unlike Treve's trainer, Christiane Head-Maarek, with her open-door media policy, Mr. Fabre will not talk with French journalists, making him the most likely trainer to rain on the parade. Additionally, Arc history has favored improving 3-year-olds, suggesting that New Bay should be granted a chance to win.

With weather forecasts signaling a dry track, another sophomore, the John Gosden-trained Golden Horn (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}), supplemented for €120,000, sports six wins and a second in seven races, including a convincing G1 Investec Derby victory. The Arc is one of the few big races to elude Gosden's grip. Golden Horn's owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer may have jinxed his horse by declaring that he would easily defeat Treve on fast going, but Gosden expressed enormous respect for Treve. Gosden has also entered Eagle Top (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), winless in four starts in 2015, because the colt favors fast ground.

Golden Horn's most recent win in the G1 Irish Champion S. was mired in controversy. In the stretch he badly bumped the eventual third-place finisher Free Eagle (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}). Free Eagle looked to be passing Golden Horn and the hard bump wiped him out. Had Free Eagle not surrendered second place to Found (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Golden Horn likely would have been disqualified.

If poetic justice existed in racing, Free Eagle would get his revenge in the Arc. Golden Horn is currently listed at 4-1 while Free Eagle is 16-1, a gap that seems like a market inconsistency. But Free Eagle will be stretching out to a mile and a half for the first time. Found, 16-1 and also a first-time stretcher, might be capable of repeating the opportunism.

Perhaps the best longshot inclusion is Erupt (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, 19% wins with an average mutuel of 6.82-1, giving the player who bets him blindly a 29% profit. The 3-year-old Erupt, winner of the G1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, over the same 12-furlong distance, entered the Prix Niel undefeated in four races, all on good-to firm surfaces, but quit in the stretch. Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family, noted that, coming from a layoff, Erupt needed the race he didn't handle the heavy ground in the Prix Niel, which is to the contrary to what we had imagined beforehand.

There are certainly other Arc entrants with redeeming traits, but lacking the credentials to match Treve in class, distance, turn of foot, and home field advantage. If Treve gets to post without a hitch, then the only horse that can defeat her is one that shows improvement. The sparingly-raced 3-year-old New Bay seems to be going in the right direction, whereas Golden Horn's last two races bear question marks, and he's had a long season.

I would play New Bay as the best of the rest, buying a one way exacta with Treve on top of New Bay. I'll have a saver win bet on New Bay if I get 9-2 minimum. I'll seek a way to use Erupt and Free Eagle in exotics. Finally I'll bet a few €2 win tickets on Treve, which I will not cash if she wins. Given the historical significance of a third Arc victory, if Treve does it, I'll save my tickets as collectibles and pass them on to another generation.

Extract from TDN by Mark Cramer
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