Treve contrived to make a comeback nothing short of remarkable for a second consecutive Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in a moment at Longchamp which will stand alongside those through any era of France’s most prestigious race.
Written off by virtually everyone bar trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, having failed to strike in an eventful three starts since last October’s glorious spectacle, she became only the seventh dual winner in the event’s 94-year history and the first since Alleged in 1978.
Treve (11-1) now heads towards imminent retirement with her legacy assured, and while it was a mere two-length margin over Flintshire rather than her five from 12 months earlier, to have seen her oblige in much the same commanding manner under Thierry Jarnet took the breath away from all those in Paris.
The pressure heaped on the hugely likeable Head-Maarek would have been considerable, as the daughter of Motivator lost her unbeaten record to Cirrus Des Aigles in the spring, was treated for muscle problems after her eclipse at Royal Ascot, and had been beaten yet again on her next appearance in the Prix Vermeille.
She was already a priceless commodity to owner Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab Racing nascent breeding empire, and the trainer had put her reputation on the line even further by requesting Jarnet back aboard instead of retained rider Frankie Dettori prior to the Vermeille.
Headstrong again and in the first half-dozen as Montviron led the St Leger hero Kingston Hill (fourth) along, Treve suddenly found a gap opening ahead as wide as one of the city’s great avenues a furlong and a half from home and she simply blasted through it. An emotional Head-Maarek said: “After the Vermeille, everyone was saying she’s gone, she’s finished, but I was sitting next to papa (legendary trainer Alec Head) and he said ’don’t worry, she’ll win the Arc’.
“She’s been stopped for a month and a half, she was just in the yard. We started to bring her back into training at the start of August.
“For one thing I can say, it’s the best race I’ve ever won. You bring a horse here with problems and she has won, it’s just brilliant.”
She went on: “When you bring your horse to the racecourse it’s because you think you’re going to win, but with all the problems that we’ve had, everyone was saying she shouldn’t run, she should go to stud, she’s cooked.
“I’ve had so many things, but today she proved she’s come back to her best.
“Last year I felt she was going to win. This year I was bringing a horse that was not 100 per cent.
“For me, she’s a very special horse and Sheikh Joaan was so nice with me. I asked him to have faith in me, I just said ’let me show I can do it’ and he said ’OK’. He was a fantastic man.”
Asked about the jockey situation, she said: “It was important to have Thierry back. After the Vermeille he said ’I don’t feel she’s coming back to her best, maybe she should retire’. I said ’Thierry, come back in 10 days and ride her’ - the way she was running I knew she would improve a ton.”
Harry Herbert, Al Shaqab’s racing advisor, summed up the feeling of anyone watching.
“Her work earlier this week gave Criquette confidence that she might just do this, but to do it how she’s done it against a top-class field, to spreadeagle them two years running – it’s absolutely phenomenal,” he said.
“It’s one of the great training performances. We all know it’s not easy to bring a filly back in her four-year-old year and to have the knocks along the way, there’s been issues along the way.
“She’s proved to a few doubters that she is back and as brilliant as ever. I think now it’s off to the Sheikh’s stud farm in Normandy and deciding who will be the lucky husband, or husband number one!
“To be involved with something like this is fantastic, especially as she has come back from adversity. I don’t think we can quite believe what we have just seen.”
There is a minute possibility Treve could run again, as Head-Maarek said: “There’s the Breeders’ Cup, Japan, Hong Kong, but we won’t say anything at the moment. We’ll get her home. The Sheikh would prefer her to be retired, I think, and that’s understandable.”
In behind Andre Fabre’s Flintshire was Taghrooda, who added this commendable third to her Oaks and King George wins for John Gosden by rallying on the outside from a tricky stall 15.
Gosden said: “She was not helped by the draw, she would have been closer otherwise but wouldn’t have won. She’ll probably be retired, the only option would be the Breeders’ Cup Turf but that’s up to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum (owner).”
Jockey Paul Hanagan said: “I had to get after her, just to get a good position, and then all of a sudden I just saw this flash on my inside. She’s some horse, that Treve.”
Roger Varian was thrilled with the performance of Kingston Hill, who was drawn widest of all.
“It was a big run, especially on that ground,” he said. “What will this horse achieve when he gets the soft? He will be a great horse to have around for another couple of years.”
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