Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Mats Genberg
Christina Højelse, Juhaim (Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club)

Being the best. The most prestigious. The most seen. That’s what every race meeting in the world wants to be. But only one race can claim what is possibly the most sought after title of all – the world’s best race. And that title belongs to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first weekend of October is the scene for what might be the biggest party in a city known for festivities. Summer holidays are long gone. Life is coming back to normal. But summer still hangs over Paris. The streets are still warm. Cafés still fill with people sipping 1647 or a glass of white. The trees in Paris’ enormous park – Bois de Boulogne – are still green.

The feeling is that of just-before-the-party. It’s all in the air.

Streets are being shut down and policed. Temporary bus stops are set up. Parking attendants in bright yellow vests go through their last training. It feels like a coronation is about to happen.

And it just might be. The ads for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe spell it out:

”Plus qu’une victoire – Une sacre”

More than a victory – a coronation.

In a few days a new king – or queen – will carry the crown. 

Danedream, 3-year-old filly and Andrasch Starke wins the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2012 at odds of 29/1.
Danedream, 3-year-old filly and Andrasch Starke wins the Qatar Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe 2012 at odds of 29/1.

The Anticipation

It’s 9 o’clock in the morning of Oct. 2, 2011, at Longchamp Racecourse. It’s hot. The feelings of rehearsal and preparation have transformed into one of countdown. Four hours until the first race and already the infield parking sports hundreds of cars.

Behind the 250 meters long grandstands, tables are being set. Decorations are put up. Food this way. Cash that way. The tricolour and the flag of Qatar are up. The hat-shop has sneak-opened. As have some of the champagne bars.

A glass? Sorry. Bucket and a bottle at €200 is the Arc-way of doing it. Moët or Dom Perignon – have your pick …

Or beer.

More than 20 000 Englishmen – and women – are about to invade. They do it every year. And they drink beer. Twenty or so of them will be completely sober though. They wear bearskin hats and play marching band music. An unexpected tradition.

As morning moves toward noon, more and more “Parisiennes” in hats show up – accompanied by men in well-tailored suits. Credit cards have been worn thin at the showrooms elite designers in the weeks leading up to the big day. Never mind the shoe stores. The concept of “high-heels” takes on a whole new meaning.

This is Paris, and the luxury hotels in the luxury capital of the world are 90% booked this weekend. They always are when it’s Arc-time. It is when the racing world gathers, and the entire luxury industry flourishes. Oh, and the best horse in the world is about to be crowned.

 “As morning goes towards noon more and more “parisiennes” in hats show up—accompanied by men in well-tailored suits”

As morning moves toward noon, more and more “Parisiennes” in hats show up – accompanied by men in well-tailored suits.
As morning moves toward noon, more and more “Parisiennes” in hats show up – accompanied by men in well-tailored suits.

The Build up

The parade ring at Longchamp sits behind the grandstands. It looks a bit like an amphitheatre with a few thousand seats and a JumboTron TV-screen. Long before the horses show up for the first race every seat is taken.

A TV-camera on a boom keeps a watching eye over the crowd. A total of seven Group 1 races will take place – six for Thoroughbreds and one for Purebred Arabians. A total of €6.7 million in purses are at stake.

But this is no charity. Betting through the national pari-mutuel company PMU exceeds €50 million. Not counting the 25 or so other countries that have betting on this day.

As soon as the jockeys have mounted the runners in the first race and head for the track, the crowd pours towards the grandstands. A dozen escalators work hard to bring them all up. The view over the 35-acre racecourse is fantastic.

On the opposite side of it, the trees of Bois de Boulogne stand as to hide the fact that we are in the middle of a big city. The tip of the Eiffel Tower peeks up behind them, reminding us where we are. The infield is filled with cars, VIP lounges and four gigantic TV-screens.

When the first race is over, the flood of people reverses and heads back toward the parade ring and champagne bars by the thousands. First time visitors, looking for the escalators going down, are easily confused. There are no “up” or “down” escalators here. Before every race they all go up. And after, they all go down.

Time goes by and the temperature rises, aided by both sun and champagne. Or beer.

The Brits yell as they toast their jockey heroes with raised glasses of beer. The French kiss two times and wear expensive suits and hats. The Germans concentrate. The Arabs wear expensive sunglasses; some are in their national dress. The Emir of Qatar is here.

This is 2011, and history is about to be rewritten.


The history

When only the remains of desserts and empty glasses are to be found on the beautifully set tables, when the party is about to have passed its peak, that is when the show starts. Time for the Arc.

In racing, a horse is considered to be in its “classic season” during its 3-year-old year. That’s when it can run in races such as the Derby, St. Leger, or 2000 Guineas. Should the horse be a filly, she would likely aim for the Oaks and 1000 Guineas instead.

That year – and never again.

But when autumn comes, the eternal question is asked. Where do the 3-year-olds of this generation stand compared to ones from the year before?

In Europe, the first big bout between 3-year-olds and their older counterparts comes in the King George the sixth and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July. In the United States, many regard the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga in August as the major challenge. But the first weekend in October, the 3-year-olds have matured and are fully ready to face their older opponents. All the best horses gather for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. There is room for almost all -– if you are good enough. Gender, nationality, and age do not matter. As long as your horse is not a gelding, you just enter and declare. If your horse’s rating is high enough and you have the money, you are welcome.

May the best horse win. No invitations. No special back doors for VIPs.

This has made the Arc the best race in the world, objectively speaking. When the average rating of the first horses of all Group 1 races in one year is compared, the Arc comes out on top. Always. It is the highest rated race in the world, and the hardest to win. According to the record books, 3-year-olds have won 56 times, 4-year-olds 25 times, and 5-year-olds and up have taken eight wins. Eighteen winners have been fillies. One has been German.

But this is 2011 and history is about to be rewritten.

Everybody thinks they know what is about happen. The Aga Khan’s horse, Sarafina, will go out and bring home the €2 million prize. The trainer is confident. This is his best horse ever.

But racing is racing and history is about to be rewritten.


The Race

The horses parade out onto the turf. Close ups of their faces appear on the JumboTrons. Andrasch Starke from Germany wears orange silks in the saddle of Danedream, a 3-year-old filly born at Gestüt Brümmerhof outside Hamburg. Few pay attention to her.

Danedream’s sire was Lomitas, and he was known to have been “a monster” in the starting gates. But in the hands of Monty Roberts (the man who listens to horses), he came to ease and showed what he was made of.

“I rarely use the word magnificent,” said Roberts. “But when it comes to Lomitas he was just that – magnificent!”

Danedream remained at her stud until she was 2-years-old, when she was sold for about €9,000. As evidence of the fact that miracles do happen, she broke her maiden in spite of her lowly price tag. She was placed in “black type” races. And then before the Arc, she won the Group 1 ”Großer Preis von Berlin” at Hoppegarten Racecourse in the German capital.

But here – at the Arc – she is just “a small horse from Germany” and hardly worth mentioning in the pre-race tipping.

Because she was not originally entered in the Arc, Danedream’s owners had to put up €100,000 just to get her in. Not even that caught any attention. The very idea that someone not coming from France, Ireland or Great Britain could have anything to do with the outcome of the race did not strike the racing nobility.

So in the 89th running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe she is just an upstart. At most. They’re in the gate. Silence. Not a sound. Time stands still.

For half a second.

As the gates open, the two speakers hammer away like machine guns. Danedream travels in the middle of the field, but as they enter the stretch you can see that Starke discovers he has so much more horse in his hands than any of the others.

A few quick slalom turns between horses and suddenly the pair of them are all alone. There is no one in front, and with 200 metres to go they just fly away effortlessly. One length. Two lengths. And as they pass the finish line, Danedream wins the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by five lengths.

Not only that, she does it in the fastest time ever – 2:24.49. And at 20 times the money. This is the second time ever the race is won by a German horse.

The French love ceremonies, and they are good at them. Even a republic needs a coronation. And this is the one.

After the races, the grandstands pour out their load of people. The roads leading through the forest/park into the city are full of a never-ending stream of cars and busses. Women are walking barefoot, high heels in hand.

The sun is setting. The party is over. Summer is over. Tomorrow it is going to be Monday. And autumn.

But today history was rewritten, as it has been so many times before during the first weekend of October in Paris.

And on Oct. 7, 2012, it starts all over again.

[toggle title=”Facts”]The first running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was on Sunday October 3, 1920. The winner’s (Comrade) prize was 150,000 Francs.

For many years the race was financed by a lottery.

The total prize money for the race day (Oct. 2011) is about $10 million.

The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the highest rated horse race in the world, with a rating of 122,5.

Qatar’s sponsorship covers the runnings until 2023.

But only one race can claim what is possibly the most sought after title of all – the world’s best race. And that title belongs to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
But only one race can claim what is possibly the most sought after title of all – the world’s best race. And that title belongs to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Of the 89 runnings, 18 have been won by fillies.

Only two German bred-horse have won the race. In 2011, the German-Bred filly Danedream also set the new Arc record of 2:24.49.

Trainer Andrè Fabre has won seven Arcs, The latest being with Rail Link in 2006.

Jockeys Jacques Doyasbère, Freddy Head, Yves Saint-Maryin and Pat Eddery have each ridden four Arc winners.




with the racing stories you love to read and the photos you love to see. Delivered via 1st Class Mail anywhere in the world.
For more offers please visit

$30 per year (the equivalent of £20 or €25)

Gallop Magazine
First issue
Pegasus - races with million-dollars-

SUPERSTARS at Gulfstream – 2017.

The people came to see California Chrome vs Arrogate. The seasoned fighter meets the new upstart—the standard story for traditional race goers. But they also got to enjoy a very special party in the sun with live bands and nice food. Is that the way to get a new generation to discover racing?

Frank Stronach thinks so and he might just be right.

Arrogate showed that he had earned the title of Longines World's Best Racehorse in scoring by a margin of almost 5 lengths.
Arrogate showed that he had earned the title of Longines World’s Best Racehorse in scoring by a margin of almost 5 lengths.
Arrogate won the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup – and he did it convincingly in a new track record time. With Big Money Mike Smith in the irons Bob Baffert had Arrogate “super cherry” and he won going away.

With Big Money Mike Smith in the irons Bob Baffert had Arrogate “super cherry” and he won going away.

The only closer in the race was Mr Stronach’s Shaman Ghost who finished second in the race his owner conceived. Arrogate and California Chrome, the two best dirt-horses in the world, met in a rematch after the Breeder’s Cup Classic that Arrogate had won after a fabulous finish coming from behind and beating California Chrome at the wire. This time Arrogate showed that he had earned the title of Longines World’s Best Racehorse in scoring by a margin of almost 5 lengths.

Arrogate and Mike Smith.
Arrogate and Mike Smith. Arrogate – WikipediaMike E Smith-Wikipedia

Mr Stronach and his team, with daughter Belinda at the helm, did a heroic job of getting the race off the ground in a little over a year. The public, who paid no less than $100 for a ticket, enjoyed themselves.

“It should be the No. 1 sport in the world because it gives so many people the feeling they can be winners”

With the possible exception of the big group of Chromies who had come from all over the country to watch their hero. They probably felt that Arrogate deserved his name. According to Merian-Webster, ‘to arrogate’ is ‘to claim or seize without justification’. After the race you would have thought you were at a wake. The absence of a cheering crowd was remarkable. Here we had just witnessed a fantastic performance by a horse who probably will go on to be one of the greats, but a large portion of the public was more interested in the horse that finished seventh. A farewell to one who had already proven himself to be great. The public held their breath–was Chrome badly hurt?

California Chrome relaxing after his morning workout.
California Chrome relaxing after his morning workout. California Chrome – Wikipedia

But no  – he walked back to the barn sound. A small filling in his right knee was detected, but nothing that is going to bother him in his next career, which will mostly tax his hind legs.

Art Sherman calling his vet after the race.
Art Sherman calling his vet after the race.

California Chrome’s fan club has made a big mark on the racing community and their devotion to their hero has really been exceptional. Through the ups and downs they followed him around the world. At 5.45am on the morning before the race there were over a 100 people in front of Gulfstream’s grandstand to watch California Chrome make an easy canter around the racetrack. The same morning at 9.00am Arrogate did the same with Bob Baffert’s top exercise rider, Dana Barnes, in the irons. This was watched by a handful of reporters and other industry people. By that time the Chromies were probably having breakfast or they might have gone back to bed. Anyway they missed watching a beautiful horse gliding over the track. Two great horses without a doubt. And now Chrome is gone to stud and we have to be happy looking forward to Arrogate’s continuing career. He is entered in the Dubai World Cup, and we are now looking forward to that.

A breakfast burrito hits the spot before the morning workouts.
A breakfast burrito hits the spot before the morning workouts.

It will be interesting to see if the Chromies find a new favorite in Arrogate. Once you are hooked on the racing game the habit can be hard to break. But of course Arrogate does not have the same underdog attraction that Chrome had. Chrome was a once in a lifetime horse for his connections and Bob Baffert is one of the established major trainers that win big races by the dozen. He trained last year’s big sensation, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and has trained innumerable winners of major races. Arrogate was bought by Juddmonte Farms at the Keeneland Yearling Sales for $560,000 and he was far from the most expensive horse sold at that sale, where there were thirteen yearlings sold for over a million. And Arrogate is probably not the most expensive horse in Baffert’s barn, which is filled with the million-dollar babies. Of course the owner Juddmonte have had horses like the phenomenal Frankel and a bunch of other super stars and Arrogate is so far just one more to add to the collection.


The story of California Chrome is a true example of the American Dream. Two guys, Coburn and Martin, bought themselves the slow mare Love the Chase, whose groom said the famous words: “Anybody who buys this horse is a dumb-ass.” There was the stable name – The Dumb-Ass partners. They took Love the Chase to Lucky Pulpit, who didn’t exactly fit the mold for a super stallion, but the price was right at $2,000 and there it was. The mating that produced a true champion – California Chrome. California Chrome has really shown that even a dumb-ass can own a star and that is a part of what makes people love him.


Veteran trainer Art Sherman was to be his trainer and the rest is history. Both Bob and Art have trained some 2,000+ winners, but Bob’s horses have averaged $20,000+ per start, whereas Art’s starters have earned about $3,500

Interestingly, Art Sherman has trained about the same number of winners, but mostly in Northern California and with horses in another price range.

For Art and his son Alan, who plays a big part in the operation, Chrome was really a once in a lifetime horse. But who knows what the future holds in the roller-coaster world of horse racing? Maybe one little Chromie will be as good as daddy.

Frank Stronach’s new race, The Pegasus World Cup (G1), proved to be a success, with a handle of over $40,000,000, which was a new record for host track Gulfstream (not counting the Breeders’ Cup days). It also seems to have attracted a crowd new to racing – a young group who enjoyed the music and the over-all new approach to entertaining race-goers between the races. Gulfstream has been remodeled since Mr Stronach took over. The old grandstand has been replaced by a structure that is smaller and with spaces suited to the casino that is now a part of the operation.

Mr Stronach is a staunch believer in the attraction of racing and at the press conference after the race he said: “It should be the No. 1 sport in the world because it gives so many people the feeling they can be winners. Look at the spectators, they’re riding the horse home: ‘I’m Mike Smith, I’m riding, I’m riding.’ Even when you only have two bucks or five bucks on the horse, that’s great.”

“The Pegasus cost an amazing $30,000,000 to build, is over 30 meters tall, and the second highest statue in the US, only surpassed by the Statue of Liberty”

Frank Stronach is making a big effort to make racing a sport for everyone again. His company The Stronach Group owns not just Gulfstream Park, but also ‘The Great Race Place’ Santa Anita and they have also bought smaller, second-tier tracks such as Golden Gate in San Francisco and Portland Meadows in Portland, Oregon and remade them to a certain extent.


The Village at what used to be the parking lot at Gulfstream is a shopping center with exclusive brands of clothing and bars and restaurants catering to a lot of different tastes. The new grandstand is more suited to the smaller crowds that now attend live racing and with big rooms for the casino that is a big part of the revenue these days. On normal race-days it is free entry, but for the Pegasus general admission was $100 and more for seats in the restaurants—and people paid the price for this unique experience. Maybe something for other tracks to think of? But then the product has to be special. No lines to the concessions, exceptional food, and an extraordinary experience all round. The band played and race-goers seemed to enjoy the music, so much so that there was even some spontaneous dancing on the apron in front of the new grandstand.




And the big statue of Pegasus fighting a fire-breathing dragon in the parking lot. A landmark that stirs up the feelings of neighbors. Some like it and some don’t, of course, but we really liked it – it is an imposing structure that can be seen from quite a distance and it makes Gulfstream very visible. The Pegasus cost an amazing $30,000,000 to build, is over 30 meters tall, and the second highest statue in the US, only surpassed by the Statue of Liberty. For Frank Stronach the Pegasus is a symbol of the victory of good over evil – hopefully a suitable symbol for racing’s struggle to renew its reputation.

The concept of races with million-dollars.
The concept of races with million-dollars stakes is spreading and now the Aussies are planning their own version, but over a shorter distance. It will be fun to see if the Americans and Europeans will show up for that party.
In an ordinary Stakes race the owners pay the stake for a specific horse, but the Pegasus was the first instance of paying for a slot for an unspecified horse. One week after the formal announcement of the race was made in May, the 12 slots had all been sold. That the group that now owns California Chrome was going to use their spot for him was obvious, but Arrogate’s slot was bought in December by Juddmonte from Coolmore, who didn’t have any horse they wanted to run. Then we had Dan Schafer, who had never owned a race-horse, but felt that this was a good way to get into the game. After some wheeling and dealing his slot was used by War Story, who finished 5th. And the founder of the race, Frank Stronach used his spot to run Shaman Ghost, who ran a great race and finished strong to end up second to Arrogate.
What will happen in the future is up in the air, but there seems to be a demand for a big race over 9 furlongs at this time of year. A last race for horses going to stud before the start of the breeding season. This year it was the obvious rematch between the winner and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Bob Baffert was on the record saying that he would have considered the Pegasus for American Pharoah if the race had been run last year. So we can hope to see Arrogate again next year—but who will his challenger be?
For Frank Stronach the Pegasus is a symbol of the victory of good over evil.
For Frank Stronach the Pegasus is a symbol of the victory of good over evil.




with the racing stories you love to read and the photos you love to see. Delivered via 1st Class Mail anywhere in the world.
For more offers please visit

$30 per year (the equivalent of £20 or €25)

Gallop Magazine
First issue
©Japan Racing Association

The Peoples Race

Japan’s season-ending race, the G1 Arima Kinen, is set to be run on December 24 at Nakayama racecourse near Tokyo. The all-aged race is a celebration of  Japan’s favourite racehorses, as the majority of the field is decided by a public vote, similar to Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. Last year, 1.5 million votes were cast. The public interest in the race makes it the most popular betting race not only in Japan, but in the world.

The turnover for the 2016 Arima Kinen was an astonishing ¥44,902,572,000.


Beyond the racetrack

Beyond the racetrack

Retraining of thoroughbred racehorses has become a topic of increasing importance in the racing industry all over the world. Many retired racehorses have very successful second careers, competing at the highest level in equestrian disciplines such as eventing and polo, or find homes in pony club, polo, and as pleasure horses. Others go on to become broodmares or stallions.

Beyond the racetrack
Beyond the racetrack

Racing NSW in Australia recently set an example for other racing jurisdictions when deciding that A$2 million per year will be set aside to ensure that all thoroughbred horses domiciled in New South Wales are appropriately cared for outside of their racing careers. They have also purchased a 2,600 acre property to be used for the rehabilitation, retraining, and rehoming of horses after their racing careers.

Photo: Alex Cairns


 Gazwan and Maxime Guyon (blue cap) galloped to victory in the G1 Qatar Arabian World Cup at Chantilly in France on October 1. The six-year-old Purebred Arabian had to battle hard in the closing stages to fight off his contenders, including his almost identical stablemate Ebraz. Both Gazwan and Ebraz are owned by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani and trained in Qatar by Julian Smart. It will come as no surprise that the two horses also share the same sire, the legendary Arabian stallion Amer.

Michael Owen


Former professional footballer Michael Owen is one of England’s most successful strikers in recent years. Since hanging up his football boots in 2013, he has become a prominent racehorse owner and breeder. Owen recently took his passion for horse racing to the next level when agreeing to take part in a charity race at Ascot on November 24. Despite having never sat on a horse until five months prior to the race, Owen finished a creditable second aboard Calder Prince, and his new race-riding career is certainly off to a good start.

Maroon & White

HH Sheikh Mohammed’s legendary maroon and white colours have been carried to victories by turf legends such as Oh So Sharp, Singspiel, and Pebbles, but the ruler of Dubai now runs all his horses in Australia, USA, and Europe in the blue colours of Godolphin. More than a decade after the famous silks were regularly spotted on British racecourses, they appeared in the winner’s enclosure at Windsor in September.

The silks have been passed on to Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya’s young daughter Sheikha Al Jalila, who has a keen interest in racing despite being only nine years old. In partnership with her father, she has a string of around a dozen horses in training with John Gosden in Newmarket.

The $9.5 million dollar mare

Horses like Songbird don’t come around very often. When the two-time champion and nine-time Grade 1 winner stepped into the sales ring at Fasig-Tipton in Kentucky, breeder Mandy Pope knew that she would have to go high to acquire the four-year-old mare. She was right, and after an intense bidding process, the hammer fell on $9.5 million dollars, the second highest price ever paid for a broodmare prospect. Pope admitted after the sale that it was a bit over her budget, but it is not the first time she has signed for an expensive ticket at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale. The world record price for a broodmare prospect was set in 2012, when Pope parted with $10 million for multiple Grade 1 winner Havre De Grace. Just like Songbird, Havre De Grace was owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms and sold by Taylor Made Sales Agency at Fasig-Tipton.

Photo: James Boardman/Alamy Live News


Toby Moore is only eight years old, but is already following in his father’s footsteps. As a son of the multiple British champion jockey Ryan Moore, who has ridden more than 100 Group or Grade 1 winners, the young Moore certainly has racing in the blood. On October 23, Toby had his first ride in public in the Shetland Pony Gold Cup, dressed in the same purple and white colours that his father has carried to victory in four Group 1 races aboard Highland Reel.

The name of Toby’s pony? Lowland Reel, of course.


Carry all in a Cary All

The James River Carry All ~ from Tucker Tweed is a generous tote that does “carry all”. Featuring scratch-resistant saffiano leather exterior, this handbag contains pockets for smart phone, key fob, large zip pocket and tablet compartment with embossed leather logo. Completed with silver hardware and feet, embossed with a variety of different horsey motifs.


Art by a Champion rider

Peder Fredricson won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics and individual gold for showjumping at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017. Peder is not only an outstanding horseman – he is also an accomplished artist. Now you can but prints of his works. This edition is made in a limited number of 250 and each piece is numbered and signed by the artist. Printed on fine art paper (Hahnemühle, German Etching, 310 g), each print is sold rolled up so you can frame it the way you like. 

We think its awesome!

40 x 50 cm

€ 153

Buy it here!

Scroll to Top