How does Enable compare? Six of the greatest Arc winners

Sun 1 Oct 2017

By staff

Enable etched her name into the annals of Turf history in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly on Sunday. In doing so joined some great winners of Europe's middle-distance championship. Here we look at six of the best:


'Whoosh' - that was how one jockey described the explosive speed displayed by Ribot on his way to winning a second successive Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1956.

The Italian colt was just awesome as he signed off a truly remarkable racing career in which he won all his 16 starts.

Despite taking an unblemished record to Longchamp, a strong field of 19 rivals assembled to try and break Ribot - but it was hopeless as the odds-on favourite simply toyed with the opposition as he ploughed through the heavy ground.

Never off the bit, Ribot was always in control and kicked on two furlongs out winning by the official margin of six lengths although it was more like 10.


In 1965 Sea-Bird II showed himself to be almost certainly the best horse to have raced in Europe since the mighty Ribot retired nine years earlier with a magnificent performance in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Having his last race before embarking on a stud career, Sea-Bird slammed the hitherto unbeaten Reliance II by six lengths - the widest Arc margin since Ribot in 1956 - with a further five lengths back to third-placed Diatome.

It was a vintage renewal of the great race with Free Ride fourth, Russian champion Anilin fifth and the top American colt Tom Rolfe sixth.


It still seems an injustice that Dancing Brave did not go into the 1986 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as an unbeaten Derby winner.

That he lost at Epsom by the narrowest of margins can be put down to a combination of jockey error and an inability to act on the track's unique undulations.

Pat Eddery was in the saddle come October when Guy Harwood's brilliant colt faced one of the best fields ever assembled for the Longchamp showpiece And he did not let his supporters down, producing a devastating performance that will live in the memory for many, many years to come.

With a furlong to run the race looked at the mercy of the home crowd's favourite Bering as he burst to the front from Shahrastani.

The huge British contingent in Paris held their breath as they looked for Eddery and 'the Brave'.

Then he appeared, flying down the middle of the track after responding instantly when asked.

His electrifying burst swept him past all-comers and he nailed Bering by a length and a half, winning going away.


Vaguely Noble is in the record books in 1968 as a French winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which indeed he was, but he was trained in England as a two-year-old before being sold for 136,000 guineas at the end of the campaign.

His impending sale, to raise money for death duties on the estate of his late breeder, Major Lionel Holliday, generated huge publicity, and the eventual purchase price was a world record for a thoroughbred at public auction.

Vaguely Noble held no Classic engagements and a victory in the Arc was the only way he was going to prove his enormous price-tag was more than justified. He started favourite, was never far off the pace and surged to the front over two furlongs out before galloping all the way to the line under Bill Williamson to beat Vincent O'Brien's Sir Ivor by three lengths.

The horse went down in history as one of the great Arc heroes but trainer Etienne Pollet had seen it all before - he also trained Sea-Bird II.


"Save the video" was BBC pundit Willie Carson's response to Peintre Celebre's record-breaking win in the 1997 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Peintre Celebre arrived at Longchamp with a less than ideal preparation behind him and the field assembled for the race featured the previous year's winner Helissio, Irish Champion Stakes winner Pilsudski, King George victor Swain, Oscar Schindler, a dual winner of the Irish St Leger, Irish Oaks winner Ebadiyla and top German filly Borgia, among others.

Helissio, who had made all to win the previous year, went off quickly, with outsider Busy Flight, in a strongly-run event and when he went a couple of lengths clear in the middle of the race, it looked a question of 'how far?'

Peintre Celebre, meanwhile, was niggling along at the back and had more runners in front of him than behind turning for home.

However, when switched, Andre Fabre's ace really began to motor and he caught the leading group with a furlong and a half to go.

He burst past Swain and quickly pulled clear to win by an official margin of five lengths from Pilsudski under a hands-and-heels ride from Peslier.

Peintre Celebre was one of the finest racehorses to land the Arc and the best of Fabre's seven winners of the race to date.


Treve contrived to make a comeback nothing short of remarkable when winning a second consecutive Arc in 2014, a victory which will stand alongside those through any era of France's most prestigious race.

Written off by virtually everyone bar trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, having failed to strike in an eventful three starts since the previous October's glorious spectacle, she became only the seventh dual winner in the event's 94-year history and the first since Alleged in 1978.

Sent off at an almost-unthinkable 11-1, Treve was headstrong again and in the first half-dozen as Montviron led the St Leger hero Kingston Hill along.

Finding a gap opening as wide as one of the city's great avenues a furlong and a half from home and simply blasted through it, leaving her rivals toiling. For the record Flintshire was best of the rest in second, ahead of Oaks and King George heroine Taghrooda and Kingston Hill.

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