Reflections on the Arc

October 4th, 2022 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

Few results could have given the visiting racegoers to Paris on Sunday greater pleasure than the victory of Alpinista in Europe’s greatest race.

Although she had sound claims on the book – having won five consecutive Group 1 races which included a defeat of last year’s subsequent Arc winner Torquator Tasso at Hoppegarten last August – I didn’t expect her to attract such a surge of late interest in the market, bringing her price down from 6/1 a few days before to 7/2.

Nor did I expect her to be still on the bridle two furlongs from home. We are more accustomed to seeing Luke Morris kicking a low-grade handicapper home at Wolverhampton and I have to admit that, privately, I did wonder beforehand if his inexperience of riding Longchamp, especially in a race of this status, would find him out.

Not a bit of it. He did much to win the race in the first furlong, when he could be seen thrusting his mount determinedly forwards into a handy position just a few lengths off the leader.

I know that many of you were on Alpinista at 14/1 from my ante-post recommendation in the Weekend Card, made after she won at Saint-Cloud in July, but come the big day the race had opened up in my mind and if the rain had arrived a couple of hours earlier then perhaps she might have struggled.

If there was a hard-luck story in the race, which was not as rough as I was expecting, then it may have been Torquator Tasso, who came with a strong run to finish third, beaten just three-quarters of a length from his outside draw in stall 18. He was the only horse drawn in double figures to finish in the first seven, and the draw must have cost him more than the distance by which he was beaten.

Heavier ground would also have suited him – the race-time was almost two seconds faster than last year – but then again the winner possibly had more to give had it been required.

Close study of the footage reveals that the six-year-old mare Grand Glory ran very well, finishing as strongly as anything into fifth, while Luxembourg lost his place in mid-division on the rails as the field turned for home before staying on steadily to finish seventh, having not had a clear run. His trainer had expressed concerns beforehand about the ground and reported that the colt had returned with a slight muscular injury. He should make his mark next season.

Of the others Alenquer got into a barging match inside the final quarter mile before staying on steadily to the line. He shaped well.

But race analysis to one side, this was a mighty triumph for one of racing’s greatest practitioners. Sir Mark may never have trained the winner of an English Classic, but many great performers have passed through his hands and his handling of this wonderful mare has been exemplary.

By the way, to close on the matter, I was at Epsom on that evening back in July 2019 when the filly made a successful racecourse debut. Despite my links as a very small-share owner to the yard, little did I think that I was witnessing the start of such an extraordinary journey.

I have always said that whenever I go racing, even at the lowest grade of meeting, I come away learning something. The same thing happened at an evening meeting at Sandown back in July, 2016, but that’s another story. Some of you, especially Weekend Card subscribers, may recall the name of the horse that caught my eye on that particular occasion!

We mustn’t forget that the jumping action moves up a gear this weekend. My Dark Horses Jumps booklet was published last week … the first two to run from it won, including a bit of a touch on one at Kelso.

These are exciting times, with the top two-year-olds running their trials and the better jumpers starting to appear.

I hope you’ll be tagging along with me and I’ll be back next week with some more thoughts.


Bye for now