Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe day; Rain, heavy ground yield best 11th in four-way Arc effort
Entscheiden saves face for Japan with third in Prix de la Foret
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, arguably the world’s most prestigious race, and the holy grail of Japan’s horsemen and racing fans, once again eluded, despite the country’s biggest onslaught yet.
On Sunday, Oct. 2, flummoxed once again by Longchamp’s heavy ground and heavy rain just before race start, Japan’s four entrants -- Titleholder, Stay Foolish, Deep Bond and Do Deuce -- posted the worst results for Japan in 5 years.
And though Japan’s share of the prize money was negligible from the three races contested over the weekend, revenue from the wagering on the Arc back home hit a record high of nearly 6.5 billion yen, more than a billion more than was bet last year.
The best results of the four among a field of 20 was Titleholder’s 11th-place, with the others crossing the line in 14th, 18th and 19th place, respectively.
The turf on Saturday had already been an official “tres souple,” the French for what would translate to a second degree “heavy” in Japan. But more rain during the night and heavy rain just before and during the race only made things worse, though the surface rating remained the same.
The globally successful Yoshito Yahagi, trainer of Stay Foolish, summed up the situation with his keen postrace observation, “I’ll need to bring a horse not only with speed, but four-wheel drive as well.”
Winning the 2,400-meter Grade 1 under Luke Morris was the U.K.’s Alpinista, 5 years old and the oldest mare to win the Arc in 85 years. French Derby winner Vadeni, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, followed in second place half a length later. And, last year’s Arc champion Torquator Tasso, with Lanfranco Dettori up, made the money in third by a neck.
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Three-time G1 winner Titleholder, one of the team’s two top-level winners, forced the pace and led until about 300 meters out. Weakening from there he was left further and further behind.
Trainer Toru Kurita said, “He ran the kind of race he wanted to run. The results are unfortunate, but the ground was difficult.
“I guess we’ll just have to keep at it and take on the challenge again. We’ll take this experience home with us to Japan and make the most of it.”
Jockey Kazuo Yokoyama, whose father rode Gold Ship in the 2014 Arc, bettered that result by three, but his focus was on Titleholder’s effort. “We all traveled abroad, but the biggest effort was made, of course, by Titleholder. Everyone, especially the stable staff, put in a lot of work. But, since the horse did the most, I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
Yokoyama had felt optimistic under way. “He put up a very tough fight. He was trying so hard, I thought, even as we turned into the stretch, that I had enough horse left to be able to choose our ground.
“But, there were other horses that were stronger. I wish Titleholder a safe trip back to Japan and I, with renewed determination, will continue do my best.”
Stay Foolish, who had drawn the No. 20 gate, broke well under Christophe Lemaire and settled in midfield. Things got tight from about 400 meters out and the race was lost over the next furlong.
Lemaire said Stay Foolish wouldn’t take the bit from the beginning. “Things were too busy for him from the start. He did try hard but he tired quickly.
“It’s unfortunate, but with this kind of ground you just can’t make headway.
Deep Bond, who finished 14th of 14 runners under Mickael Barzalona last year, kept two horses behind him this year.
Yuga Kawada took Deep Bond forward from the No. 5 gate and settled in fourth position about 5 lengths off the top, a spot he held for the first 1,800 meters, after which he weakened.
Kawada, who was participating in his fourth Arc, said, “Everything had gone smoothly up to raceday and I think he went to the gate in good condition.
“The rain that had been falling since the night before got heavier just before the race and made for difficult going. It was a very tough race. Nevertheless, he tried hard until the very end.”
“Honestly,” said Deep Bond’s trainer Ryuji Okubo, “I wish the weather had held a bit longer. The horse was in really good shape but the ground became very difficult.
“He did look good in places and both the jockey and the horse did a great job. I think he gave it everything he had. It’s frustrating, but we’ll just have to accept it and come back with another horse that is up to this challenge.”
Arc veteran Yutaka Take was riding for Japan for his sixth time. His fourth aboard Kizuna in 2013 was his best finish, though he did bring Deep Impact home in third in 2006, only for the colt to be disqualified later.
Take was paired with this year’s Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Do Deuce, who had finished a promising fourth in his prep in the Sept. 11 Prix Niel.
Do Deuce, however, was wholly unsuited to the going on Arc Day. He remained toward the rear on the inside and was never in contention.
“The horse was in good condition,” Take said, “but, from the start, he wasn’t able to race the way he normally would. The results were unfortunate. But, everyone on the team made a massive effort.”
Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi said, “It seems that the heavy rain just before race start is what had the worst effect.
“When Do Deuce returned after the race, he was covered in mud, more than I’ve ever seen him. The ground didn’t suit.”
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As he did last year, the Deep Impact-sired Entscheiden turned in a face-saving performance as the only horse fielded by Japan to finish in the money.
After a hard fight, Entscheiden managed to duplicate his finishing order in 2021, crossing the line in third place in the Prix de la Foret.
The Prix de la Foret, a Grade 1 over 1,400 meters of turf and the seventh race on the Sunday card of nine, got under way at 6 p.m. (local time). The 7-year-old gray, whose best results at home are two thirds in G3 company, broke from the No. 4 gate under Ryusei Sakai, shot to the front and quickly to the rail.
Passed at points by the eventual 7th-place finisher Fang under Cristian Demuro, Entscheiden maintained his composure despite an unruly New Energy kicking it up on his heels. Concentrating on the work at hand, he regained the lead and continued to race, fully extended, yet relaxed. He was overtaken by Tenebrism just past the 400 mark, but gained the top again only to lose it to a final spurt by Kinross, who continued on to win. Entscheiden was then passed by Malavath in the final strides.
The U.K.-bred Kinross, a 5-year-old gelding by Kingman trained by Ralph Beckett and ridden by Lanfranco Dettori, took his winning streak to three after back-to-back Grade 2 wins at York and Doncaster.
The Irish-born 3-year-old filly Malavath, paired with Christophe Soumillon and running under 2.5 kg less than the winner, finished in second 2 lengths later, with Entscheiden following by a length in third.
Kinross, racing under the colors of Marc Chan and under the top weight of 58 kg (the same as Entscheiden), clocked 1 minutes 24.4 seconds over the 1,400 meters of heavy turf.
Yusaku Oka, assistant to trainer Yoshito Yahagi, said “We were here for a fight to the finish and, to tell the truth, I really wanted to win.
“The heavy ground made it difficult for all the Japanese horses in the Arc and I think this horse really gave it his all,” said the 37-year-old Oka. “I think his result is a direct result of how hard he tried. “
The 25-year-old rider said, “First of all, I want to thank the owner Mr. Maeda and all the connections who made it possible for me to stand on this fantastic stage.
“The ground really made it hard to race and I think he really gave it everything he had.”
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On Saturday, Oct. 1 in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein, Yasuo Tomomichi’s My Rhapsody did a near repeat of his sixth-out-of-six finish in the Sept. 11 Prix Foy when he came home last of 10 in the Grade 2 turf event over the mile. My Rhapsody, by Heart’s Cry, broke smartly from the No. 8 gate and traveled on the outside in third position, then dropped back to midfield still on the outside as they rounded for home.
From 400 meters out, the heavy ground looked to be taking its toll and, though he ran solidly to the end, the 5-year-old My Rhapsody was unable to give Yutaka Take any more.
The race was won by the Dubawi-sired Erevann, a 3-year-old locally trained colt owned by Aga Khan and ridden by Christophe Soumillon. Erevann, now 3 for 4, had suffered the first loss of his career last out with a third-place finish in the G1 Prix du Jacques le Marois on Aug. 14 at Deauville. In the same race, Japan’s Bathrat Leon had finished seventh in the same race.
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