Racing: Day of despair for Dettori

By JA McGrath

They don't come much easier than this. Treve careers away to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.Picture / AP
They don't come much easier than this. Treve careers away to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.Picture / AP

Top Italian jockey Frankie Dettori endured a jockey's ultimate nightmare when Treve, the filly he would have ridden but for fracturing his ankle in a fall last week, annihilated one of the best fields seen in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe yesterday, hacking up by five lengths to give Criquette Head-Maarek her finest moment as a trainer.

The memory of Treve running away with substitute jockey Thierry Jarnet half a mile out, plus the remarkable turn of foot displayed by this gangly, powerful filly in the home straight, can never be erased. She was simply outstanding.

Bought by the Head family's Haras de Quesnay operation for 18,600 ($36,000) - "I just thought it was ridiculous that she should be sold for such a low price," declared the family patriarch Alec Head - Treve fully justified the 8 million ($13 million) which is reputed to have been paid by Sheikh Joaan Al Thani for the filly after her win in the Prix de Diane in June.

Up to that point, the filly was still so immature that Head-Maarek had no intention of running her in an Arc, but the filly's physical development has since been rapid.

This year's Arc had been seen as an ideal opportunity for the flamboyant Dettori not only to recapture the limelight in Europe's biggest all-aged contest, but also to deliver to his new employer, Sheikh Joaan, his biggest prize yet as an owner.

There is no doubt Dettori would have won on Treve; the brutal truth is that most jockeys in the top 20 would also have won on her.

Jarnet could never get any cover on the outside for his mount, and he broke all the rules about riding Longchamp by allowing her to stride up to the leaders before the home turn. And he was in front more than two furlongs out.

Head-Maarek said Dettori had played an important part in getting Treve to the winner's enclosure.

She said he had given the filly "an amazing ride" in the Prix Vermeille three weeks earlier, conserving her energy as much as he could in very soft ground.

"I send him a big kiss," the trainer said.

For the second successive year, Japan's Orfevre filled the runner-up slot, but it was no close thing this time around.

He managed just to get the better of Prix du Jockey Club winner Intello, who did best of Andre Fabre's quintet of runners in third, with Kizuna, the Japanese Derby winner, fourth.

Now, Head-Maarek would like to speak to the owner about training Treve for a repeat win in next year's Arc.

The filly is 4-1 with Paddy Power to pull it off, and according to the trainer, she should be better and stronger still by then.

The calming effect of fitting earplugs in the paddock beforehand had also been beneficial.

"I think there's a lot of improvement in her physically," Head-Maarek said.

Al Kazeem did the best of the British challengers with his sixth and will now retire to stand at the royal studs at Sandringham.

Jarnet, 46, also later won the Prix de la Foret, with Moonlight Cloud, who ran past the entire field in the straight to win easily. It is doubtful that many jockeys would ever have ridden two such brilliant fillies in the one afternoon.

Christophe Soumillon felt Orfevre had turned in a fine performance, but thought Treve was unstoppable on the day.

"This year he was feeling very well and I was confident. But with the weight the older horses give to the 3-year-olds, it is quite difficult for them."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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