Will Enable justify short-priced favouritism in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp on Sunday, or will racing fans be left scratching their heads as an outsider sails past the post in front?
Tom Peacock recalls five favourites who delivered in Europe’s premier middle-distance race and five surprise packages.
Five fab favourites:
Year: 2009. Odds: 4-6
As was always the way throughout that unforgettable six-race Group One streak for John Oxx’s colt, he just got the job done regardless of circumstance.
He met plenty of trouble around Longchamp, firstly losing his place and then getting boxed in around the home bend.
Nonetheless, he surged through the field and ended up beating serial place-getter Youmzain by two lengths to confirm his place amongst the best in history.
Year: 2008. Odds: 13-8
There had long been a buzz about the Aga Khan’s home-bred, who had romped through the Prix Marcel Boussac, beaten the mighty Goldikova in the French Guineas and swiftly added the Oaks and Vermeille to her tally.
She was ready to answer her hardest test of all, coming with her usual devastating turn of foot inside the final furlong to sweep two lengths away. Not only unbeaten throughout her career, she was the first three-year-old filly to land the Arc in a quarter of a century.
Year: 2001. Odds: 11-5
One of the finer earlier advertisements for Saeed Bin Suroor and the Godolphin operation, the colt had been runner-up in the Derby for John Dunlop and had only reappeared in mid-summer, running away with the Juddmonte International at York.
He was just as impressive on this occasion under a positive Frankie Dettori ride and opened up a six-length gap to Aquarelliste. The pair were to go on to an agonising defeat to Tiznow in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Year: 1999. Odds: 6-4
Temperamental yet utterly brilliant on his day, Montjeu was trained with admirable patience by John Hammond and had emerged an emphatic winner of both the French and Irish Derbies.
Favourite backers were given quite a scare in Paris with the Japanese challenger El Condor Pasa stealing a clear lead early in the home straight, but thanks to the power of Mick Kinane, he overhauled his rival close home.
Montjeu added a King George to his tally but was turned over at even shorter odds 12 months later.
Enjoy watching six of the best Arc winners - including the mighty Montjeu
Year: 1995. Odds: 21-10
Sightings of this fine chestnut were fleeting, as he ran just once as a juvenile shortly before his young trainer Alex Scott was killed by a stable employee. Lammtarra was transferred to Saeed Bin Suroor and came from the clouds on his seasonal bow to take the Derby.
He followed up in the King George and had to do it the hard way from the front in the Arc, with Frankie Dettori holding off the desperate challenge of Freedom Cry by three-quarters of a length.
Five Surprise Packages:
Year: 2012. Odds: 33-1
There were plenty of interesting inclusions in this Arc line-up despite a few notable absentees, but few would have given Solemia a second inspection.
Although a solid Group Two performer, there was little to suggest Carlos Laffon-Parias was going to encourage such a performance from his filly and she was helped in no small part in a dramatic finish as the enigmatic Japanese runner Orfevre threw away his winning chance, to the despair of his Asian followers.
Nonetheless, Solemia showed great determination for her unequivocal career highlight.
Year: 2011. Odds: 20-1
The last time a German-trained horse had won the Arc was had been 36 years earlier and there had been little to recommend about the cheaply-bred Danedream during her juvenile career.
However, under the careful tutelage of Peter Schiergen, she had run away with the Italian Oaks and added two further domestic Group One prizes.
Attention focussed on better-known names such as Sarafina, So You Think and Snow Fairy but Danedream proved a class apart as she skipped five lengths ahead.
Year: 2002. Odds: 158-10
The combination of Godolphin and Frankie Dettori was rarely ignored by punters yet Marienbard was definitely one of their darker ones when taking on top-notchers such as Sulamani, High Chaparral and Islington.
The five-year-old had been travelling further afield during the autumn, notching a Group One double in Germany, and benefitted from a magical ride by the Italian as he waited for a gap halfway down the straight and forged a strong finish from what was to be Marienbard’s last start.
Year: 1993. Odds: 37-1
Perhaps now better-known as the magnificent broodmare who is the dam of Sea The Stars, Urban Sea was a very handy racehorse herself who had been sent across continents by trainer Jean Lesbordes and had won at up to Group Three level at home in France.
Against a fantastic field of stars such as Opera House, Hernando and many more, she revelled in the heavy ground and fought her way up the rail under Eric Saint-Martin, son of the decorated Yves, and kept herself a neck in front of the lunging White Muzzle.
Year: 1989. Odds: 189-10
Well-travelled colt who had competed at such diverse venues as Chepstow to Baden-Baden and Milan during his three-year-old career and had continued to shine for Michael Jarvis at four, winning the Irish Champion Stakes during a tough season.
The likes of In The Wings and Cacoethes were preferred at Longchamp, but Carroll House had the assistance of Mick Kinane as he came from close to the pace and secured a length and a half triumph.
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