Found proved the Queen of Chantilly with an imperious display in today’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which Aidan O’Brien confounded the record books by remarkably saddling the first three runners home.
The filly, who beat Golden Horn in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, had turned into somewhat of a bridesmaid this season, coming into this race off the back of five straight second place finishes.
But there was much more to come here and a masterful tactical ride by Ryan Moore was the highlight of an incredible finish, with only the two other Ballydoyle contenders Highland Reel and Order Of St George showing any shred of a threat.
The apparent Aga Khan second string Vedevani took the field along at a strong pace and still led turning for home, where Order Of St George sat poised and the leading British hope Postponed was also well positioned to deliver his challenge.
Meanwhile, Ryan Moore and Found were threading a path through, just behind the leaders and showed the best turn of foot, with Postponed unable to go with the filly.
As the long-time leader faded, Found quickly put distance between herself and her rivals and it was Highland Reel, who had sweated profusely beforehand, who emerged as the chief pursuer, with Order Of St George staying on well in third, as the British, French and Japanese challenge melted away.
Found was never seriously under threat though and came home 1 ¾ lengths clear of Highland Reel, to make it five wins for fillies in the last six renewals of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. For good measure, Order Of St George finished 1 ½ lengths behind Highland Reel to give Aidan O’Brien an unprecedented clean sweep in this most famous of races. Siljan’s Saga ran on brilliantly to claim fourth spot, with Postponed a little one-paced in fifth and One Foot In Heaven sixth. Derby winner Harzand never threatened to take a hand in ninth position, while the big Japanese hope Makahiki was eased down in 14th.
Aidan O’Brien’s mastery of the thoroughbred touched upon levels of genius at Chantilly on Sunday as Found led home a Ballydoyle clean sweep in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Never one to extol his own virtues, even the quiet man from County Tipperary admitted that this achievement deep within the valley of the Nonette was probably his finest moment as a trainer.
Perhaps, though, this was one of the finest moments in Flat racing.
In a week in which the sport recalled that famous day when Frankie Dettori secured seven winners from as many rides at Ascot 20 years ago, Chantilly joyously played host to another feat that may never be repeated.
The moment was not lost on Dettori, either, who planted a kiss on the lips of winning jockey Ryan Moore after the Italian had steered the O’Brien-trained Order Of St George into third place.
Whether Moore would have appreciated such bonhomie is open to debate, but his affection for Found has been unwavering ever since she was a youngster.
“When Ryan rode her as two-year-old he said she could win an Arc – he was obviously right,” said O’Brien.
Despite having defeated previous Arc winner Golden Horn in America last October, and being unfortunate not to be much closer than ninth in this race 12 months ago, Found had unsettled many ante-post punters by the fact she had finished second on her last five outings.
But O’Brien, not for the first time, knew best.
The perception of her wide draw being troublesome soon subsided as Moore was nicely pitched in eighth place as Vedevani, a pacemaker for dual Derby winner Harzand, led the charge towards the grands ecuries around six furlongs from home.
But it was within the final 250 yards that things began to get serious for Found, who shot clear with ease.
Highland Reel gave chase with honourable vigour under Seamie Heffernan, but he was never going to catch his stablemate, who was a length and three-quarters clear at the line. Order Of St George was another length and a half away, with huge outsider Siljan’s Saga fourth.
O’Brien, claiming a second Arc triumph after Dylan Thomas struck in 2007, said of Found: “She’s only run over a mile and a half four times before and she was unlucky in the Arc last year. We’ve had our eye on this for a long time.”
O’Brien added: “It’s a privilege to be here and be part of it. How can you see anything higher (in his career) than this? I couldn’t dream this would happen. You know how difficult the Arc is.
“And what makes it amazing is that they (the first three home) are all by Galileo.”
Part-owner Michael Tabor added: “I can’t believe it. First, second and third in the Arc, it’s unbelievable. It’s just incredible. Words can’t describe it. It’s just amazing.”
Newmarket trainer Roger Varian was less amazed by Postponed, the 15-8 favourite who could only finish fifth.
He said: “It’s a feeling of disappointment as we went in hoping we would win, but the main thing is we still have a horse to go to war with and we can take him home and see how he comes out of it.”
For his part, Harzand was unable to get in a serious blow in ninth, while Japan’s wait for a first Arc continues as Makahiki was never a factor.
Typically, the Coolmore camp were reluctant to map out an immediate gameplan for Found, although Tabor said an autumnal trip to America for the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita will be under discussion.
But as Moore, in his own round-about way, was keen to point out, this was an occasion that should be savoured without the need for future stargazing.
He said: “To saddle the first three in an Arc, and to get three horses there in top shape and beat the best around, is quite incredible.
“She was in her best shape today and things worked out, back to a mile and a half and a nice, evenly-run race.
“She showed what she is capable of – at her best she is a very hard filly to beat.”