Future plans for the unbeaten super filly Zarkava have yet to be decided as the dust settles on her stunning Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe success at Longchamp.
The French 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner trounced older colts at the first attempt and found a dream run through the field to collect by two lengths, thus becoming the first filly since Urban Sea in 1993 to win the race.
Alain de Royer-Dupre’s three-year-old thankfully broke well unlike in last month’s Prix Vermeille, and the 13-8 favourite left her rivals toiling when bursting clear under the ice-cool Christophe Soumillon.
Mick Channon’s Youmzain had a rough passage and flashed home to take the runner-up honours for the second year running, while Solider Of Fortune and It’s Gino dead-heated for third.
Royer-Dupre, following up Dalakhani’s success in 2003, said: “My reaction is that it is so great to train a filly who has so much talent and is so good.
“It is marvellous and I was very confident during all of the race, expect for the start where she didn’t go straight but after that it was OK.
“Everyday you are anxious in case she has a problem or if something goes wrong. She is a filly who can be a little bit nervous sometimes, but I have a very good assistant who looks after her well.
“From the beginning of the week I felt she would go well but you are always afraid of a last-minute accident.”
For her owner the Aga Khan the result was a massive boost for his breeding operation, with the unbeaten daughter of Zamindar related his family’s champion Petite Etoile.
His Highness said: “This is as well as you can do in breeding thoroughbreds. After nearly 90 years of breeding in the family this is a remarkable occasion.
“The filly has been very good this year and this was something that was already clear in my mind. We were worried about the draw so didn’t give any specific instructions to Christophe as he knows the filly.
“The decision about her future has not been taken yet. She won’t race again this year and I will discuss next year with my team.”
Soumillon was ecstatic after the win, throwing his riding helmet into the crowd and even treating the Parisian racegoers to a Frankie Dettori-style flying dismount.
Referring to the slow start in the Vermeille: “Journalists often try and find a weakness in champions but this filly has no weakness. She has a temper but you need a temper to be a champion.
“She gave me a similar feeling to Dalakhani and I think he is the only horse who might have defeated her. She is an outstanding filly and will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.
“It was the greatest moment of my like when she came into the straight going so easily, just like Dalakhani. They are two champions who will be in my life forever.”