Group 1, 3+, 2,400 metres (1m4f), €5m
Created in 1920
Record time (Longchamp) : 2’24’’49 in 2011 (Danedream). Found won in 2’23’’61 in 2016 at Chantilly, beating the course record.
Last winner : Enable (f4, GB by Nathaniel), Homebred by Juddmonte farms, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori.
Held in 2019 for the 98th time.
After abandoning the poor ground of Champ de Mars in 1857 for its brand-new racecourse at Longchamp, the Société d’Encouragement pour l’amélioration des races de chevaux en France conceived an ambitious project: to pit thoroughbreds of different nationalities against each other on the demanding Bois de Boulogne track in order to unearth the very best.
The first phase came in 1863 with the creation of the Grand Prix de Paris, which served as a vehicle for the winner of the English Derby to compete against that of the Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, over 3,000 metres.
In pursuit of the same goal, the Société d’Encouragement organised a meeting between 3-year-olds and their elders on a mile and a half course, scheduled for the start of October to give young horses time to develop. This was the Prix du Conseil Municipal, created in 1893.
1920 saw the rebirth of racing in the wake of the Great War. The Société d’Encouragement wanted to create a showcase for French thoroughbred breeding. In its quest for perfection, a new race was founded presenting the same characteristics in terms of date and distance as the Conseil Municipal, but with no overweights or underweights, just weights for age, with each horse on equal terms. On the European racing calendar, the first Sunday in October was a free date.
All that remained was to select an eloquent name for this generously rewarded race. On 14 July 1919, the allied forces had marched victoriously beneath l’Arc de Triomphe, a monument constructed in honour of the French armed forces… So despite the fact that a minor claiming race at Longchamp had been called the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe since 1882, the name passed in 1919 to this new international event, designed to compare the merits of Europe’s finest thoroughbreds and select a champion.
Run at Chantilly in 2016 and in 2017 during new ParisLongchamp building. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hasn’t been run in 1939 and 1940 and was run at the Tremblay course in 1943 and 1944 over 2,300 m.
The Arc de Triomphe first secured state funding in 1935, when the government authorised the Société d’Encouragement to organise a sweepstake on the race, like the Grand Prix de Paris run 3 months earlier. A sweepstake is a lottery where the awarding of the prizes is dependent on both a drawing of lots and the race result. This system was used from 1936 to 1938, the sole difference being that the organisation of the sweepstake was entrusted to the national lottery (created in 1933) run by the government.
After the war, it was not until 1949 that the alliance was renewed between the Arc de Triomphe and the sweepstake, a special section of the national lottery. It had a jackpot of 50 million francs, which enabled the Arc prize money to be increased fivefold each year – it currently offers 25 million francs to its winner – and the purse of all the races on what is a particularly bumper weekend upgraded. As a result, the Grand Criterium was added to the Arc meeting for four years, after which it returned to its usual slot on the calendar, one week later. As the years passed, however, the assistance from the national lottery dwindled, to the point that, by the 1970s, it had become only symbolic. And in 1982, the Arc served as a support for a national lottery sweepstake for the final time.
Also in 1982, the Arc de Triomphe joined forces with a London-based hotel chain, Trusthouse Forte, which owned some eight hundred hotels around the world, including two luxury hotels in Paris, the Plazza Athénée and the George V. This relationship would last six years, until 1987.
In 1988, TF was usurped by another hotel chain, the Italian Ciga Hotels group, whose major shareholder was the Aga Khan. It was a marriage made in heaven that would make the “Ciga Weekend” the focal point of world racing. In 1989, the Saturday was enriched by the Grand Critérium, then in 1991, the Prix du Cadran was added, making it a spectacular weekend of five Group I races. On 12 October 1991,
35,000 racegoers (30,000 of them paying) flocked to Longchamp and a further 45 million watched the race on TV, courtesy of the nineteen television channels covering this now major sporting event. After their six years of lavish cohabitation came separation and in 1994, the Arc was reunited with its former suitor Trusthouse Forte, but their renewed tryst lasted just 3 years. Remaining single for 1997 and 1998, the Arc found a partner again in 1999, and once more it was a hotel group, the Hôtels et Casinos du groupe Lucien Barrière. This relationship was to last nine years, up until 2007.
2008 brought with it a new partnership. Agreed for a 5-year period with Qatar, a young country in the midst of a boom, it has resulted in a doubling of the prize money of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, from 2 to 4 million euros. The partnership was extended in 2010 for another ten years, ensuring sponsorship until 2022. It has also allowed French racing to enter a new phase in the history of the Arc, which in 2008 became the most richly rewarded turf race in the world. This partnership has primarily been concluded to promote the races organised by the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club (QREC, founded in 1975), which is venturing into the world of the English thoroughbred with a most ambitious project.
The overall purse for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend now stands at 6.7 million euros, including €5m for the feature race only. The card consists of fifteen English thoroughbred races (7 of them Group 1 and 4 Group 2), along with two Group I events for Arabian purebreds, organised by France Galop and the AFAC (Association Française du Cheval Arabe de Course). The first of the Arab purebred races is for four year-old fillies and will be run on Arc Saturday under the name, The Qatar French Arabian Breeders Challenge. The second race, the Qatar Arabian World Cup, is the world’s most prestigious event for Arabian purebreds, courtesy of €450,000 in prize money. It is run immediately after the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The race winners, full details of which can be consulted on the Officiel du Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe website, bear witness to this fact.
Doubles and near misses
Only 8 horses won the race twice:
- Ksar in 1921 and 1922 ;
- Motrico in 1930 and 1932 ;
- Corrida in 1936 and 1937 ;
- Tantième in 1950 and 1951 ;
- Ribot in 1955 and 1956 ;
- Alleged in 1977 and 1978 ;
- Treve in 2013 and 2014 ;
- Enable in 2017 and 2018.
2 had made the frame before: Motrico, 4th in 1928 and Corrida, 3rd in 1935.
13 others failed in the Arc before winning it:
- Massine 2nd at 3 in 1923
- Djebel 3rd at 4 in 1941
- Nuccio 2nd at 3 in 1951
- Oroso 6th at 3 in 1956
- Exbury 6th at 3 in 1962
- Allez France 2nd at 3 in 1973
- Star Appeal unplaced at 3 in 1973, winner at 5
- Ivanjica unplaced at 3 in 1975
- All Along unplaced at 3 in 1982, winner at 4 in, then 3rd at 5
- Sagace unplaced at 3 in 1983, winner at 4 in then 2nd at 5
- Rainbow Quest unplaced at 3 in 1984
- Tony Bin 2nd at 4 in 1987
- Found, 9th at 3 in 2015
17 winners failed to win again:
- Priori, 5th at 4 in 1926 ;
- Kantar, 2nd at 4 in 1929 ;
- Ortello, 4th at 4 in 1930 ;
- Brantôme, 4th at 4 in 1935 ;
- Le Pacha, 6th at 4 in 1942 ;
- Ardan, 2nd at 4 in 1945 and 4th at 5 in 1946 ;
- Coronation, unplaced at 4 in 1950 ;
- La Sorellina, unplaced at 4 in 1954 ;
- Puissant Chef, 6th at 4 in 1961 ;
- San San, unplaced at 4 in 1973 ;
- Three Troikas, 4th at 4 in 1980 ;
- Detroit, unplaced at 4 in 1981 ;
- Carnegie, 6th at 4 in 1995 ;
- Helissio, 6th at 4 in 1997 ;
- Montjeu, 4th at 4 in 2000 ;
- Bago, 3rd at 4 in 2005 ;
- Hurricane Run, 3rd at 4 in 2006 ;
- Trève, 4th in 2015.
Fillies and mares
They won 23 times : Pearl Cap (1931), Samos (1935), Corrida* (1936, 1937), Nikellora (1945), Coronation (1949), La Sorellina (1953), San San (1972), Allez France* (1974), Ivanjica* (1976), Three Troikas (1979), Detroit (1980), Gold River* (1981), Akiyda (1982), All Along* (1983), Urban Sea* (1993), Zarkava (2008), Danedream (2011), Solemia* (2012), Trève (2013, 2014*), Found* (2016) and Enable (2017).
(*) winners at 4.
Eleven had run in the Prix de Diane, including 6 winners (Pearl Cap, Nikellora, La Sorellina, Allez France, Zarkava, Trève), 3 second-placed (Samos, Three Troikas, Akiyda) and 2, All Along and Urban Sea, fifth and sixth respectively.
4 October 1925. On account of his third-place finish behind Massine the previous year and six other victories (including the Cadran and the Prix du Président de la République), the 4-year-old Cadum – ridden by Matthew MacGee and trained by Clément Duval – was favourite for the Arc (11/10). And he passed the finish post first, a length ahead of Priori. But his numerous backers started to sweat when the siren sounded. Baron Edouard de Rothschild’s horse had strayed off course just before the finish, cutting across Priori’s path. As a result, the latter was declared the winner by race stewards. The fortunate Priori (40/1) ridden by Marcel Allemand, belonged to Count Gérard de Chavagnac and was trained by Percy Carter. He had just won the Prix Royal Oak.
4 October 1959. A neck-and-neck finish. Everyone had to wait thirty-two minutes to discover the winner: twelve for the examination of the photograph, then twenty to study the film (introduced a month before). Eventually, it was established that the first five horses respectively were “separated” by a dead heat, a short head and two short necks. But at the intervention of the stewards, Midnight Sun (50/1) – ridden by Jacques Fabre, owned by François Dupré and trained by François Mathet – was demoted to second place for having obstructed his “dead-heater” Saint Crespin (17/1), himself owned by Prince Aly Khan, ridden by George Moore and trained by Alec Head. Third was Le Loup Garou (45/1) ahead of Mi Carina (40/1) and England’s Primera (9/1).
6 October 1985. The previous year’s winner, Sagace, Daniel Wildenstein’s 5-year-old trained by Patrick Biancone, was the hot favourite (6/10). Upon entering the home straight, Sagace, tight on the rail, was heading for the finish post. The only danger was Rainbow Quest, who was gaining ground and getting nearer to the rail. Whipped to the right by his new jockey Eric Legrix, Sagace instead veered left, striking Rainbow Quest twice. On passing the post, Sagace was ahead by a neck from Rainbow Quest (fading fast). The incident passed almost unnoticed. While the crowd was acclaiming the French victory, the siren sounded to announce a complaint by the jockey of the English horse. After seven minutes delay, a crestfallen public learnt of the disqualification of their favourite. The immediate broadcast of the film on the television screens, while not soothing the spirits, provided proof of the fault. An appeal against the decision was submitted, arguing that Rainbow Quest had left the outside and approached Sagace, thereby causing the latter’s defensive reflex, Despite being judged admissible, this appeal was deemed to be without foundation. The lucky beneficiaries of the stewards’ difficult decision were Prince Khalid Abdullah, the trainer Jeremy Tree and the jockey Pat Eddery.
2006 brought a major surprise a few days after the Arc de Triomphe, when the Japanese horse Deep Impact was disqualified from third place due to the presence in his urine of a prohibited substance, ipratropium, a bronchodilator administered to him by inhalation. His trainer revealed that the Japanese champion had indeed been treated for the onset of bronchitus and that his failure to appreciate the medication’s persistence was behind this infringement. He was fined €15,000. In 1903, French racing’s administrators were the first to ban the use of any kind of stimulant ahead of an event. In 2006, the French administrators applied the regulations set by the European racing authorities, which are much more stringent than those governing other sports.
5 training countries won the Arc: France (66 wins), United Kingdom (16), Ireland (7), Italy (6) and Germany (2).
6 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners also sired a winner :
- Biribi (1926), sire of Le Pacha (1941)
- Djebel (1942), sire of Coronation (1949).
- Ribot (1955 and 1956), sire of Molvedo (1961) and Prince Royal (1964).
- Sea Bird (1965), sire of Allez France (1974)
- Rainbow Quest (1985), sire of Saumarez (1990)
- Montjeu (1999), sire of Hurricane Run (2005).
7 sires gave more than one winner:
- Brûleur (3 winners),
- Tourbillon, Ribot, Riverman, Sadler’s Wells, Montjeu and Cape Cross (2 winners).
The 3 first horses home in the 2016 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe were all sired by Galileo, a son of the great 1992 winning mare Urban Sea, hence a brother to 2009 renewal winner Sea the Stars. before Urban Sea, one notes that Detroit, winning mare in 1980, foaled Carnegie, winner in 1994.
- Marcel Boussac (6 wins) : Corrida (1936, 1937), Djebel (1942), Ardan (1944), Caracalla (1946) and Coronation (1949).
- Casaque Aga Khan (6 wins) : Migoli (1948), Nuccio (1952), Akiyda (1982), Sinndar (2001), Dalakhani (2003) and Zarkava (2008).
- Khalid Abdullah (6 wins) : Rainbow Quest (1985), Dancing Brave (1986), Rail Link (2006) Workforce (2010) and Enable (2017, 2018).
- Daniel Wildenstein (4 wins) : Allez France (1974), All Along (1983), Sagace (1984) and Peintre Célèbre (1997).
- Michael Tabor (4 wins) : Montjeu (1999), Hurricane Run (2005), Dylan Thomas* (2007) and Found (2016).
- Casaque Wertheimer (3 wins) : Ivanjica (1976), Gold River (1991) and Solemia (2012).
- Robert Sangster (3 wins) : Alleged (1977, 1978) and Detroit (1980).
* In association with Susan Magnier and/or Derrick Smith.
- André Fabre (7 wins) : Trempolino (1987), Subotica (1992), Carnegie (1994), Peintre Célèbre (1997), Sagamix (1998), Hurricane Run (2005) and Rail Link (2006).
- Charles Semblat (4 wins): Djebel (1942), Ardan (1944), Caracalla (1946) and Coronation (1949).
- François Mathet (4 wins) : Tantième (1950, 1951), Sassafras (1970) and Akiyda (1982).
- Alec Head (4 wins) : Nuccio (1952), Saint Crespin (1959), Ivanjica (1976) and Gold River (1991).
- Frank Carter (3 wins) : Mon Talisman (1927), Pearl Cap (1931) and Samos (1935).
- Etienne Pollet (3 wins): La Sorellina (1953), Sea Bird (1965) and Vaguely Noble (1968).
- Vincent O’Brien (3 wins): Ballymoss (1958) and Alleged (1977, 1978).
- Saeed Bin Suroor (3 wins) : Lammtarra (1995), Sakhee (2001) and Marienbard (2002).
- Christiane Head-Maarek (3 wins, only woman to train a winner) : Three Troikas (1979) and Trêve (2013, 2014).
In 2016 at Chantilly, Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Found, Highland Reel and Order of Saint George finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
- Lanfranco Dettori (6 wins): Lammtarra (1995), Sakhee (2001), Marienbard (2002), Golden Horn (2015) and Enable (2017, 2018) ;
- Olivier Peslier (4 wins): Helissio (1996), Peintre Célèbre (1997), Sagamix (1998) and Solemia (2012) ;
- Thierry Jarnet (4 wins): Subotica (1992), Carnegie (1994) and Trêve (2013, 2014) ;
- Pat Eddery (4 wins): Detroit (1980), Rainbow Quest (1985), Dancing Brave (1986) and Trempolino (1987).
- Freddy Head (4 wins): Bon Mot (1966), San San (1972), Ivanjica (1976) and Three Troikas (1979) ;
- Yves Saint-Martin (4 wins): Sassafras (1970), Allez France (1974), Akiyda (1982) and Sagace (1984) ;
- Jacques Doyasbère (4 wins) : Djebel (1942), Ardan (1944) and Tantième (1950, 1951).