Arc glory at last for Stoute

MICHAEL STOUTE completed his set of major European honours as a reborn Workforce shook off a difficult midsummer and the sustained challenge of Japanese runner Nakayama Festa in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.

Workforce took the Investec Derby in imperious style back in June, but his reputation was severely tarnished after a heavy defeat in the King George and Stoute only confirmed the colt’s participation in Paris on Thursday morning.

Workforce has now fulfilled the professional desires of both Stoute and jockey Ryan Moore, who stuck to his position on the inside rail for as long as possible despite the risk of being unable to find space, while others fell foul of serious scrimmaging.

If Moore made Workforce’s passage to the front of the field appear simple, things changed very quickly and for the last furlong and a half they were engaged in a colossal battle against Nakayama Festa, with only a head between them at the post.

Stoute, whose successes span the entire globe, had been second in the Arc with Pilsudski in 1996 and 1997 and said it had all been about patience.

He reflected: “It’s been a long time, and I’m delighted to win it, especially with him as he looked outstanding in the Derby before being such a disappointment in the King George.

“We have been trying to figure that out ever since. Ryan felt he should have just switched him off more that day and I think as a big horse, I may have trained him too hard.

“We always had the Arc in mind after the King George but connections wanted me to be assured he was in the right shape.

“I had been happy with him and was hopeful today, but we wanted to make sure he ticked every box and we only confirmed him after his last piece of work on Thursday.”

It was a fourth Arc for long-standing owner Prince Khalid Abdullah

The Arc is the culmination of the European season but it has earned a fearsome reputation for hard-luck stories.

Case in point was Sarafina. The Aga Khan’s filly charged late to finish third, two and a half lengths adrift, after being impeded and carried wide out of the false straight before home.

Seventh-placed Planteur was disqualified to last, while the Aga Khan also claimed fourth from the favourite Behkabad.

Planteur was disqualified for causing interference while Aidan O’Brien felt Fame And Glory would have finished higher than fifth if not for being bumped close to the conclusion.

“He was coming to challenge and then he got mullered,” he rued.

O’Brien had better luck when Misty For Me secured her second Group One haul with a battling effort in the Total Prix Marcel Boussac, holding off strong-travelling favourite Helleborine in a driving finish.

“She’s a very good filly. She’s an Oaks and a Guineas filly next year – she could do both,” said the Ballydoyle handler.

Richard Fahey’s Wootton Bassett became the latest juvenile to throw his hat into the ring for next year’s Classics with a superb front-running performance in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

The Iffraaj colt was quickly away in the hands of title-chasing jockey Paul Hanagan, like Fahey gaining his first top-level triumph, and the pair were soon freewheeling at the head of affairs.

It seemed as though it was just a matter of time before his early exertions would take their toll, but instead he quickened further clear in the straight and only had to be kept up to his work in the final furlong to win with plenty to spare. Maiguri and Tin Horse dead-heated for second.

“We wanted to make plenty of use of him as we felt he would stay well,” said Fahey.

“He’s the first proper Group horse I have had since Utmost Respect, and you would have to look down the Classic route now.

“I put him in the Irish Guineas a while ago and I will put him in the English and French Guineas as well.

“We’ll take him back to Malton now and I’d say that will be it for the year as he has had a long season.”

Freddie Head’s wonder mare Goldikova will once again head for the Breeders’ Cup after racing into the record books by securing her 11th Group One triumph in the Qatar Prix de la Foret.

The five-year-old travelled strongly throughout in the hands of Olivier Peslier and quickened clear under minimum driving late on to defeat old foe Paco Boy and his stablemate Dick Turpin, setting a new record for Group One wins by a horse trained in Europe.

Gilt Edge Girl gave Clive Cox and Luke Morris Group One glory with an impressive performance in the Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye.

The four-year-old raced tight to the rail throughout having broken from stall one and had enough in the tank late on to hold off fellow filly and British raider Lady Of The Desert.

“It’s a great feeling. She has been improving all the way through the season,” said Cox.

“She has good Group Two form, has a really big heart, and loves the ground.

“I’m very pleased for Luke, he’s a very good jockey.”

Gentoo finished with a wet sail to land the Qatar Prix du Cadran, while Jean-Claude Rouget's Lily Of The Valley got the better of her better fancied stable companion Stacelita in the NYSE Euronext Prix De L'Opera.

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