Five great Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winners

·4-min read

The 100th running of France's iconic horse race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, takes place at Longchamp on Sunday.

The colours of the 99 previous winners will decorate the racecourse to mark the centenary.

AFP Sport picks out five of the Arc's greatest victors:

- 1965: Sea Bird

Rated by many as the greatest horse of the 20th century, the Epsom Derby winner lived up to his name in the 1965 Arc, sprouting wings under Australian jockey Pat Glennon to win by six lengths leaving American champion Tom Rolfe and Irish Derby winner Meadow Court in his wake.

Glennon never lost on Sea Bird and indeed the only time he did not ride the Etienne Pollet-trained French superstar was the horse's only defeat, although ironically the Australian did still ride the winner.

"Sea-Bird is by far the best horse I have ever seen, let alone ridden," said Glennon.

Few would disagree.

- 1971: Mill Reef

Like Sea Bird he achieved the Epsom Derby-Arc double. Trained by Ian Balding and owned by American philanthropist Paul Mellon, he lost just twice in 14 races -- one of those defeats to the equally outstanding Brigadier Gerard.

Named after a stretch of coastline in the West Indies, he may have been small of stature but he made up for it with his courage.

His victory in the Arc was never in doubt as he swept to a three-length victory over French star Pistol Packer. His attempt to win a second one was brought to a juddering halt when he broke his leg on the gallops but his life was saved.

A statue of him stands at the stables where Balding trained him.

"I don't know if we were all incredible people, but we were just lucky to have this incredible horse," said Balding.

- 1986: Dancing Brave

Sea Bird may be considered the greatest horse but Dancing Brave's Arc is widely considered to have had the strongest line-up of equine talent.

The Guy Harwood-trained star should in many people's eyes have won the Epsom Derby but for a poorly judged ride by Greville Starkey.

The late Pat Eddery replaced Starkey and guided him to victory in the Arc.

It was a performance befitting a champion.

Eddery had to switch him to the outside as he faced a wall of nine horses in front with only a couple of furlongs to race.

However, any ground he lost he made up for with an astonishing burst of acceleration.

"He was the best," said Eddery. "He had a lovely quality about him, really laid-back."

- 2008: Zarkava

Zarkava arrived at the Arc with a fearsome record of six wins in six races but for the first time she had to face the colts (males).

Jockey Christophe Soumillon settled her nicely and she produced a devastating burst of speed to tear through her opponents and take the glory.

She was the first horse to have won from the number one stall since Prince Royale II in 1964.

An exultant Soumillon flung his whip and helmet into the crowd whilst owner/breeder the Aga Khan expressed what it meant to the family.

"My family has been breeding racehorses for five generations," the Aga said.

"Two generations in India and three in Europe, and I believe this moment is the apogee of that effort."

- 2013: Treve

Shunned by the racing cognoscenti when she was offered for sale, her breeders the Head Family could hardly believe their luck as her racing career developed.

Trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, she stormed to victory in the Prix de Diane (the French Oaks) and the key Arc trial Prix Vermeille.

However, she was not even favourite for the Arc, with that honour falling on Japanese runner and 2012 runner-up Orfevre.

Treve, though, made a mockery of the betting as under Thierry Jarnet she overcame a poor start to blow away the opposition in a five-length victory with the unfortunate Orfevre having to settle for second again.

Treve was to return the next year and become one of the rare horses to win a second successive Arc.

"Ah that was fantastic for our stud. It was truly a great moment," Head-Maarek's brother, four-time Arc winning jockey Freddy, told AFP.

"Treve was really special."


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