Longchamp, known to be one of the world’s most distinguished racetracks, sits on the banks of the Seine River in Paris. The racetrack, the host of over half the Group I’s in France, is unparalleled by any other in its country. Longchamp puts on display a genuine racecourse, made up of four racetracks with an astonishing forty-six starting points. It holds the world’s second richest race on turf: the cherished Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The most important race in France, the Arc’s roster of champions features the turf’s greatest heroes such as Ribot, Sea Bird, Alleged, and All Along. One of its most revered victor’s was Sea Bird’s four year old daughter, Allez France, who was undefeated at the time she won the Arc.
Time has not changed the quality of the equine muscle that charges over the Parisian turf. In 2015, the name Golden Horn blared over as the newest champion of the Arc.
Golden Horn’s Arc was arguably his most impressive race, facing the most challenging field of the year at Longchamp. The ground came up as good for the big race, favoring Golden Horn. Breaking from the fourteenth stall, he found himself in the back early on, but moved closer on the outside before the first turn. Frankie Dettori placed him in second, on the heels of Treve’s pacemaking stablemate. He seemed comfortable throughout the majority of the race, although at the first downhill turn, he appeared somewhat rank.
Without any persuasion, he kicked into his fastest gear coming out of the final turn and claimed a slim but distinct lead. Golden Horn stretched into commanding stride, fighting the surges of eventual second and third placed Flintshire and New Bay. He moved towards the wire with forceful leaps and he displayed his easy movement. With power and purpose, Golden Horn passed the final post with a strong final time of 2:27.23 for 1 ½ miles. Denying the fourth placed Treve a historic third consecutive Arc win, Golden Horn gave trainer John Gosden his first win in the storied Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and jockey Frankie Dettori his fourth.
Dettori remarked after the race, “I really believed in this horse and he put it to bed like a superstar. It was an amazing performance. I scratched my head all week about what to do, but I knew I was on the best horse so I wanted to make use of him and show the world just how good he really is.
“He's probably the best horse I've ridden.”
Having dominated all the major races in Europe, the brilliant dark bay’s connections may direct their attention stateside to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships depending on how Golden Horn recovers from the French classic. Prior to the Arc, owner Anthony Oppenheimer commented, “It's entirely up to the horse. If the horse comes second or third in the Arc and is still in good condition I think the Breeders' Cup is a definite possibility on the turf. I don't feel he needs to run as a four-year-old.”
Golden Horn’s record is evidence of his remarkable capabilities. The son of Cape Cross captured the attention of the racing world when winning the Epsom Derby (Gr-I) by a convincing 3 ½ lengths then took the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Gr-I) by the same margin over talented older males, such as The Grey Gatsby. The only loss of his career came in the Juddmonte International Stakes (Gr-I) on good to soft ground. He fell ¼ lengths short of the 50-1 upset filly, Arabian Queen. Frankie Dettori, regular rider of Golden Horn, explained the loss, “The horse was more keen than usual today. He was going to the King George and missed it so came here a bit fresh today. I was expending a lot of energy trying to hold him and he couldn't use his turn of foot in that ground at the end.”
In his next outing, however, Golden Horn returned victorious. On yielding turf at Leopardstown, he won the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Gr-I) by one length over Found. He defeated an immaculate field: behind him were Group I winning Found, Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Gr-I) victor Free Eagle, Pleascach who was victress of this year’s Group I Yorkshire Oaks, in which she defeated Covert Love. The stateside Secretariat Stakes (GI) winner Highland Reel, defending Irish Champion Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby, and fan-favorite multiple Group I winner Cirrus des Aigles rounded out the field.