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Alpinista posts sparkling win in Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Gendarme wins Sunday's Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse. Photo courtesy of Japan Racing Association
Gendarme wins Sunday's Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse. Photo courtesy of Japan Racing Association

Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Like the last fighter standing after a rain-soaked street brawl, Alpinista and her connections now look around after Sunday's sparkling win in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe thinking, "Who's next?"

The 5-year-old Frankel mare overcame day-long rains and very soft turf to win Europe's premier race by 1/2 length, running professionally all the way for jockey Luke Morris. French Derby and Coral-Eclipse winner Vadini finished second, and last year's winner, Torquator Tasso, was third with a late move.

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Alpinista has beaten everyone they've thrown against her last year and this year, in all kinds of conditions, so any further challenge might have to involve frequent flyer miles.

The weekend's global racing action also included Group 1 and Grade 1 contests in England, Japan and Australia, all of them important for upcoming races and for year-end honors.

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The Arc, though, was the crown jewel in a weekend of racing so bright that even the gloomy, rainy Paris weather couldn't dim. Among other highlights, winners earned five "Win and You're In" spots to next month's Breeders' Cup World Championships at Keeneland.

One of those Breeders' Cup passes accrued to Alpinista so the Arc-Breeders' Cup Turf double, famously accomplished by Enable in 2018, is an option for trainer Sir Mark Prescott and owner Kirsten Rausing.

Other possibilities? Prescott, averse to air travel, even the hop across the Channel to France, mentioned that Alpinista is entered for the Japan Cup in Tokyo on Nov. 27, where the Arc win made her eligible for a huge bonus.

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And the Hong Kong Jockey Club surely would love to welcome her to the Longines Hong Kong Cup in December.

Retirement also is an option for a sound mare who has won eight straight races in three different countries and, really, has nothing left to prove other than the long-haul travel question.

The Arc had its share of disappointments, including yet another humbling experience for Japanese connections. Japan has been seeking the Arc for decades, never quite able to land the prize.

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This year, top prospect Titleholder went right out to the lead but, on the soft turf, ran out of gas early in the stretch run and finished 11th. The country's other contenders reported 14th, 18th and 19th in the 20-horse field.

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Jockey Christophe Soumillon was emotional about his inability to get the Aga Khan's Vadini by Alpinisa in the final furlong. And Frankie Dettori was ruing the conditions as he brought Torquator Tasso from far back with a late run.

In other Sunday action at soggy Longchamp:

Belbec put a neck in front of Gamestop at the finish of the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and Blue Rose Cen ran out a 5-lengths winner in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac for 2-year-old fillies, earning "Win and You're In" spots in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf, respectively.

Blue Rose Cen, a Churchill filly trained by Christopher Head, won for the fourth time in six starts with her last four races at 1 mile. Belbec, a Showcasing colt from the yard of Andre Fabre, had missed the frame in each of his last two starts, both group events.

Place Du Carrousel reeled in the favorite, Nashwan, in the final strides of the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera Longines and won by 3/4 length. Above the Curve just missed catching Nashwan for second.

The victory was worth a "Win and You're In" spot in the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland on Nov. 5.

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Place Du Carrousel, a 3-year-old filly by Lope De Vega, went to the post as a long shot after finishing 10th in her last start, the Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines or French Oaks, a race won by Nashwan. Trained by Andre Fabre for Al Shaqab Racing and Ballylynch Stud, she has three wins and two seconds from six starts.

The Platinum Queen opened a 2-length lead halfway through the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Longines and jockey Hollie Doyle managed to hold the 2-year-old Cotai Glory filly together despite drifting twice before winning by a short neck. White Lavender was in close pursuit and finished second in the 1,000-meter dash.

The Platinum Queen, a 2-year-old taking on older horses, improved to four wins and two seconds from seven starts for trainer Richard Fahey and earned a "Win and You're In" entry to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, but that race is restricted to 3-year-olds and up.

The only Group 1 race on the Sunday program not anointed by Breeders' Cup was the 1,400-meters Prix Foret, won by the favorite, Kinross, ridden by Frankie Dettori. The 5-year-old Kingman gelding went to the lead a furlong from the finish and continued on strongly to score by 2 lengths from Malavath.

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Kinross, trained by Ralph Beckett, won for the third straight time following Group 2 scores at York and Doncaster.

On Saturday's program at Longchamp:

It was clear well before Stradivarius was officially retired early in the week that Kyprios already had assumed the mantle of top European stayer and he confirmed that, in spades, in the Group 1 Prix du Cadran at 2 1/2 miles.

After racing comfortably behind the early pace, the 4-year-old Galileo colt simply said goodbye to the rest of the field, winning by 20 lengths despite hanging all the way out to the stands-side rail in the final 100 meters and being eased home by Ryan Moore.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien said Kyprios may have strayed over to greet the fans because he lost a shoe halfway up the straight, but added, "I think he was just left in front too long."

Sea La Rosa tracked the pace in the Grade I Prix de Royallieu for fillies and mares, moved to the front 200 meters out and won convincingly as the favorite by 1 length. Australia's champion mare Verry Elleegant, excluded from the Arc by low French ratings, was never involved and finished seventh.

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In Group 2 action, Moore got the day off to an exciting start, riding Al Qareem home to a nose victory in the 3,000-meters Prix Chaudenay for 3-year-olds.

Anmaat got a short lead heading for home in the Prix Dollar and, under strong urging from jockey Jim Crowley, just did hang on to win by a head bob over Junko.

Erevann took a solo journey down the inside rail to win the 1,600-meter Prix Daniel Wildenstein by 1 1/2 lengths over The Revenant with winning rider Christophe Soumillon facing a two-months suspension after the Longchamp meeting for an earlier infraction.

Japan

Japan has only two Grade 1 sprints on its annual calendar and after Gendarme landed Sunday's Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse, both had been won by long shots.

Gendarme sprinted to the lead turning for home in the 1,200-meter race, and then kept running up the incline toward the finish, holding off Win Marvel by a neck at the end.

Naran Huleg, the upset winner of the first Grade 1 Sprint, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, had a little traffic problem on the turn and settled for third, another 3/4 length back.

Gendarme, a 7-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Kitten's Joy, would be a tough selection for sprinter of the year. Sunday's win was his first at the Grade 1 level and he spent most of his career a few steps lower in class.

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With two of last year's top sprinters sidelined with injuries, Naran Huleg may be a default winner.

England

They run these races for a reason, the saying goes -- a saying confirmed again as Saturday's Group 1 Royal Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket was supposed to be, but never was a showdown between defending champion Saffron Beach and Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs.

Instead, it was Fonteyn taking the late lead, surrendering it briefly to fellow long shot Laurel, then coming again to win by 3/4 length over that rival.

Homeless Songs finished seventh and Saffron Beach eighth. Fonteyn, a 3-year-old Sheik Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum homebred filly by Farhh, delivered her second win from seven starts.

Australia

Three Saturday Group 1 events at Royal Randwick produced three moderate upsets over testing going, two of them featuring heart-stopping finishes.

No Compromise had to alter course at mid-stretch in the Group 1 Furphy Metropolitan but jockey Tommy Berry obviously picked the right path as the 5-1 chance got there first by a desperate nose over joint-favorite Le Don De Vie.

No Compromise, a 6-year-old Pins gelding, had only two previous wins and finished sixth in the 2021 Metropolitan.

Ellsberg and Top Ranked hit the finish together in a dead heat in the Group 1 TAB Epsom with Hinged sandwiched between them in third, just a neck short of a three-way tie.

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The favorite, Icebath, could only manage fourth after breaking second-last in the 1,600-meter journey.

Zougatcha provided less of a thrill in the Group 1 Darley Flight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, rallying up the rail to win by 2 lengths over She's Extreme with the favorite, Fireburn, fizzling out in the lane to finish fourth. Zougatcha made it three straight wins at Randwick.

On the same Royal Randwick card, Cascadian overcame a slow start to win the Group 2 Fujitsu General Hill Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths in another mild upset as the favorite, Montefilia, came home third. The 8-year-old Godolphin runner obviously enjoyed the heavy going, while Montefilia did not.

The turf was good at Flemington on Saturday, but the feature produced an upset there, too. Smokin' Romans, at 20-1 odds, was home first by 1 1/2 lengths over Maximal in the Group 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes at 2,000 meters. The favorite, Gold Trip, settled for fourth in a bunch behind the winner.

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