Oct. 7 (UPI) — It was not to be for Enable in the Arc, as Sunday’s program at Longchamp produced more upsets than form. But the results of that weekend horse racing, nonetheless, will echo through the rest of the year and into the future.
Trainer Chris Waller swept all before him in Australia and some new connections shaped up in Hong Kong as the season hits full stride
Starting from the top:
For just a moment there, it appeared Enable was home free to an historic third straight victory in Europe’s most prestigious race, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. But then came Waldgeist, ranging up from well back and well out in the track to snatch the victory and deny history, winning by 1 3/4 length. Sottsass was third, followed by Japan and Magical in the “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Enable had won 12 straight races, defeating the best on two continents. Waldgeist had finished in her wake in three previous meetings, never particularly close. Sunday, things were different. The 5-year-old son of Galileo, coming off a win in the Group 2 Prix Foy, waited patiently back in the field in the Arc, switched out inside the final 300 meters for room and rolled steadily thereafter, passing rail-riding Enable and Frankie Dettori without much resistance. Jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot was celebrating at the finish.
It had been assumed generally before the race that owner Prince Khalid Abdullah would retire Enable immediately after she cooled down from the Arc. But after the upset, racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe presented a less certain forecast.
“We have to accept defeat in racing,” Grimthorpe said. “Prince Khalid will make a decision on her future. He will want to reflect and give it some good thought.”
In 2018, the prince sent Enable to Churchill Downs to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf, making her the only horse ever to win those two races in the same year. Waldgeist, meanwhile, was lowered to single-digit odds for the Breeders’ Cup race by British bookmakers. Waldgeist finished fifth in that race last year after a fourth-place showing in the Arc.
Also on Sunday’s stellar card at Longchamp:
Albigna made steady progress through the final 200 meters and was along in time to take down Sunday’s Group 1 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac for 2-year-old fillies, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Marieta. Flighty Lady was third and the favorite, Japan-bred Savarin, finished a well-beaten seventh. Albigna, a Niarchos family homebred filly by Zoffany, scored her third win from four starts, failing only with a sixth in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh. The win was good for a “Win and You’re In” berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies turf.
Victor Ludorum rallied outside the front runners inside the 100 meters to win the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardare for 2-year-old colts and fillies by 3/4 length over Alson, who led the way for Frankie Dettori. Armory was a close third for the Coolmore connections. Victor Ludorum, a Godolphin homebred by Shamardal, remains undefeated after three starts. Andre Fabre trains the colt and Mickael Barzalona had the mount. The race was a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Villa Marina, at long odds, got to the lead inside the final 200 meters in Sunday’s Group 1 Prix de l’Opera Longines, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and held on gamely to win by a short neck over Fleeting. The favorites were well back in the field over the testing going after days of rain. Villa Marina, a 3-year-old Le Havre filly, was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Qatar Prix Vermeille on Arc Preview Day after making steady progress all season.
Glass Slippers posted yet another upset in the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines, leading through most of the 5 furlongs and saluting the judge 3 lengths to the good of So Perfect. El Astronaute was third at rather astronomical odds. Glass Slippers, a 3-year-old daughter of Dream Ahead, posted her third straight win. The race was a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
One Master held off City Light in the Group 1 Qatar Prix de la Foret, winning by 1/2 length. Speak in Colours was third. One Master, a 5-year-old Fastnet Rock mare, bagged her first win of the year although she was second in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket in July.
Holdthasigreen made all in Saturday’s Group 1 Prix du Cadran, held gamely through the final stages and reported first by 3/4 length over Call the Wind. The favorite, Dee Ex Bee, could make no impression late and settled for third in his first race in a long time out of the shadow of Stradivarius. Holdthasaigreen, a 7-year-old Hold That Tiger gelding, went into the race at long odds with only one previous win this season.
It was good to be Chris Waller Saturday in Australia. The trainer not only won all four of the day’s Group 1 races across two venues but, in the process sent out six winners on the nine-race program at Randwick. “It’s been a very special day and a massive team effort.”
“I still doubt myself and check myself and make sure we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” Waller told Sky Racing. “But I think once you get complacent in any sport you can soon drift off the pace and we dare not let that happen.”
It certainly did not happen Saturday.
Kolding edged Te Akau Shark in a tight finish to Saturday’s Group 1 TAB Epsom Stakes at Royal Randwick with Star of the Seas a distant third. Kolding, a 4-year-old Ocean Park gelding trained by Waller, made it two in a row following a Group 3 score in September.
Kings Will Dream posted a minor upset in Saturday’s Group 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes at Flemington, narrowly defeating stablemate Finche with Hartnell in close attendance in third at the end of 2,000 meters. The top two are trained by Waller. The favorite, Mr. Quickie, failed to live up to the name, beating only one rival. Kings Will Dream, an Irish-bred 6-year-old by Casamento, finished sixth in last year’s Caulfield Cup but failed to finish in the Cox Plate with a life-threatening pelvic injury. He likely will have another chance in that race with Finche now among the favorites for the Caulfield Cup.
Waller scored again in the Group 1 Darley Flight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Randwick as Funstar romped in the Darley Flight Stakes at 1,600 meters. The Adelaide filly now has four wins from five starts and a bright future.
And it was 4-for-4 for Waller as Come Play With Me posted a minor upset win in the Group 1 Heineken 3 Metropolitan at Randwick with the favorite, Stampede, fourth in a tight, four-way finish. Come Play With Me, a 5-year-old Blackfriars gelding, got the 2,400 meters in 2:30.61 for his first win of the season.
It’s early innings in the Hong Kong season but already, some ground has shifted. Sunday at Sha Tin, the shift was to a rare alliance between jockey Joao Moreira and trainer Richard Gibson that produced two of Moreira’s three wins on the card. Prior to Sunday, that pair had not had a winner together since 2015.
“Richard’s a very professional guy and he knows what he’s doing,” said Moreira, who leads reigning champion Zac Purton for the jockey premiership 17 wins to 13. “Unfortunately, I haven’t had many opportunities to ride for him in the past but lately he’s been giving me some rides and they’ve been good ones.”
Gibson said the long gap in cooperation wasn’t all to his doing. “It’s rare that we can get our hands on Joao but it often pays dividends when we do,” he said.