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News from Europe

Danedream dominates Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

By Tom Krish

Teruya Yoshida, a Japanese businessman, bought one half share in Danedream, a sophomore filly representing Germany, three days ago. Gestut Burg Eberstein, Danedream’s owner, had on Thursday supplemented the filly to run in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Peter Schiergen, trainer of Danedream, had supported the decision to supplement. It was not an easy decision and the pundits had been, in one voice, saying that the 2011 renewal of the Arc was a wide open affair. Yes, infusion of cash from a new partner must have lightened Burg Eberstein’s burden. It turned out to be a prescient decision of enormous proportions. Danedream, a 26/80 outsider, came away victorious and it was a performance that had to be seen to be believed.

Jockey Andrasch Starke had Danedream in striking range as the front runners set a scorching pace. The three fancied runners, Sarafina, So You Think and Workforce, raced in the rear. One would have thought it was a time-tested strategy as there was every reason to think that the horses in the vanguard would back up. Starke was ready to pounce on the leaders as the 16-horse field turned for home. In a matter of moments, the winner of the 90th edition of the Arc de Triomphe had been spotted.

Danedream surged to the front and the exultant Starke found himself on an unassailable lead with less than two furlongs to run. The winning margin was five lengths. Shareta, always in the mix, held on for the runner-up berth. Snow Fairy, Frankie Dettori’s mount, took third. A neck separated the second from the third. One half length away in fourth was So You Think. Sarafina,unable to land a blow, finished seventh. Galikova was ninth. Nakayama Festa, second in the 2010 Arc, was eleventh. Taking twelfth was Workforce, last year’s winner. Masked Marvel was sixteenth and last. The irony was that the Arc winner was a supplement and the horse that finished last was another supplement.

The top three spots were taken by three fillies. It was the 15th time in the past 18 years that a three-year-old won France’s most prestigious horse race. Danedream clocked 2:24.49 for 2400 metres. It is an Arc record. A bet of one euro returned 27.80 in the French tote.

I asked the first question in the post-race press conference. The question was addressed to owner, Gestut Burg Eberstein. Trainer Schiergen was present. Jockey Starke had a mount in the race following the Arc. “Would you be interested in a pot of gold that beckons across the Atlantic? It is the Breeders’ Cup Filly-Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November, your filly is peaking right and you may have a big chance?”

“She was fabulous today. According to me, she has done enough. I am not asking for more. Winning the Arc is great and we will bring her back as a four year-old. A trip to America, I am not thinking about it. I can say it is off,” Ebersein responded.

When jockey Starke came to the conference room, you could see he was over the moon. “It is unbelievable. Winning here at Longchamp and the Arc is everybody’s dream. When I won the Italian Oaks, a fan told me that Danedream will win the Arc. Back in June, if you told me that this filly will win today, I would not have accepted,” Starke said.

Fluent in German, French and with a good command of English, the 37-year-old Starke is articulate beyond description. “How confident were you going into the race? After all, your connections paid that huge money to supplement. Were you surprised by how easy you won?” I queried.

“I had good position. She was traveling well from the beginning. I knew all the good ones were in the back. They went fast. When I let her go, she was great. She took the lead easily. Two furlongs out, I knew I was the winner. She is a great filly,” jockey Starke replied.

Lomitas is Danedream’s sire. Danedrop, by Danehill, is the dam. Lomitas was euthanized in August 2010 at the age of 22. He was the top juvenile in Germany in 1990. He had his share of success in Group races. His problem was his reluctance to enter the starting stalls. Niniski by Nijinsky, is the sire of Lomitas. La Colorado by Surumu, is the dam of Lomitas.

After a poor race in a stakes at Dusseldorf, it was suspected that Lomitas was the victim of food poisoning. Taken to Newmarket, Lomitas was trained in the dark and later went to California. This is the stuff that thriller novels are made of.

The Arc card began with Kasbah Bliss winning the 4000-metre Prix Cadran. The 23/10 favorite, Kasbah Bliss, trained by F Doumen, was ridden by Gerald Mosse. Ten ran and the time was four minutes 30.52 seconds. Kasbah Bliss won by a length and a quarter.

The 1000-metre Prix l’Abbaye went to the England-based Tangerine Trees. Tom Eaves was the winning rider. Bryan Smart is the trainer. Fifteen ran and the time was 55.53 seconds. Tangerine Trees, a 198/10 chance, won by a head over Secret Asset.

Next came the Prix Marcel Boussac over 1600 metres for freshman girls. John Gosden’s Elusive Kate made it all despite going wide in the final part. William Buick was aboard Elusive Kate who clocked 1:38.10 seconds. Elusive Kate won by three lengths and was a 39/10 proposition. Fire Lily took second. Zantenda, the French filly and the odds-on choice, could do no better than be third. Five ran.

Dabirsim kept his winning streak going with a narrow verdict in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over 1400 metres. Seven freshman boys went postward. Dettori found an opening along the fence late in the lane to justify half-money favoritism. The time was 1:19.85 seconds and Dabirsim won by three parts of a length. C Ferland trains Dabirsim.

Goldikova’s swan song in France in the 1400-metre Prix de la Foret was widely expected to be a celebration. There is many a slip between the cup and the lip. Olivier Peslier could not bring home the 1/2 favorite home. Dream Ahead, trained by England-based David Simcock, staged a duel down the lane with the three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and edged ahead in the waning yards. William Buick was winning his second Group I race on Arc day. Dream Ahead has been retired. It may be recalled that Dream Ahead, a multiple Group race-winning sophomore, was ranked equal to Frankel at the end of 2010. Dream Ahead, a 47/10 chance, clocked 1:18.10 seconds, a remarkable time. Goldikova is on course to make it four in a row in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. In 2009, the Freddie Head-trained mare lost the la Foret but bounced back in great style to win at Santa Anita.

Frankie Dettori had won his 500th Group winner with Dabirsim. It did not take long for the Italian reinsman to register win number 501 in Group company. In the Prix de l’Opera, the last Group I race on Arc Day, Dettori, aboard Nahrain, outfought Maxime Guyon on Announce, the 2/1 favorite. The 9/2 Nahrain is trained by Roger Varian who has now taken over from Michael Jarvis. The legendary Jarvis passed away only days ago and his funeral was at week’s end. Trainer Varian dedicated his first Group I success to Jarvis, his mentor. Nahrain won by a nose in a time of 2 2.74 seconds over 2000 metres.

I had a chance to talk to Andre Fabre and he confirmed that Announce will be at Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup. John Gosden told me that Elusive Kate will be at Louisville for the juvenile turf. I had a minute or two with Sir Michael Stoute who said a decision or two will be made in matter of days.

On Sunday at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan, the Group I (turf) Sprinters Stakes was run. Curren Chan, a 10/1 longshot, won the 1200-metre race in 1:7.4 seconds. Jockey Kenichi Ikezoe rode Curren Chan. The winner is trained by Takayuki Yasuda. This race generated big news because of the failure of the heavily favored Rocket Man, winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic.

On Tuesday morning, I take the Eurostar to go to London. From London’s King Cross, I board another train to Thirsk, North Yorkshire, where I’ll spend five days with Silvestre de Sousa and Vicky, his wife. Silvestre is now third in the British jockey standings. I will go racing with Silvestre who visits India to ride there in the winter.

I will be at Ascot on October 15 to attend racing on British Champions’ Day. It is England’s first attempt at emulating the American Breeders’ Cup example. I am looking forward to seeing Frankel run.


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