By Duane Fonseca
France’s most prestigious race, the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe went Germany’s way Sunday evening after Marcel Weiss’ long shot Torquator Tasso staged the mother of all upsets to win the 2400m contest on ParisLongchamp’s hallowed turf that was rendered heavy on account of persistent rain in the French capital.
Had the weather behaved itself not many would have fancied even the wildest punt on Germany’s Horse of the Year for 2020, who is a two-time Group One winner. But with the weather playing to the tune preferred by the 4yo son of Alderflug, who apparently has - and showed - bottomless reserves of stamina, all his rider Rene Piechulek had to do was give him a chance.
And Piechulek would do just that, keeping Torquator Tasso well in the frame once the field of 15 turned for home with Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby schooled Epsom Derby winner Adayar at the head of the pack.
William Buick may have been a bit keen on the back of Adayar in hindsight, but the pair did pull away by three lengths before the long home stretch got the better of them as the pressure built with teammate stable companion Hurricane Lane, the ride of James Doyle, and Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa with Christophe Soumillon up putting pedal to metal.
Buick and Adayar could only watch the three go by as they managed to hold on to fourth.
As the finish drew close, it appeared a match race between the bobbing heads of Tarnawa and Hurricane Lane, a winner of three Group Ones including the Irish Derby, Grand Prix de Paris and the St Leger. But as Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall with Ryan Moore in the saddle briefly woke up 400m out, so did Torquator Tasso to the urgings of Piechulek. And they slipped down the centre fully stretched with the German raider edging his far more illustrious rivals 50m out.
Torquator Tasso won by three fourths of a length with Tarnawa adjudged second by a short head from Hurricane Lane after the photo was called into question. Snowfall placed sixth, a head behind Sealiway, and a total of four and three fourths of a length behind his German conqueror.
Torquator Tasso’s victory was one of the biggest in the history of the race, with his trainer Weiss declaring: “He’s a very strong horse… and Rene is a very cool jockey.”
Piechulek added: “I’m at a loss for words, it is just exceptional and so emotional this is my first ride here.”
Tarnawa’s trainer Weld was left rueing the rain and said: “She’s run a superb race. She was in great order coming into the race. Her speed was of limited value today. I honestly believe if we didn't have all the rain last night she'd have won.”
Speaking of Adayar’s run, Appleby added: “William said he didn’t like the ground – he was going in it not going through it. Coming back on decent ground next year I can see this horse being at the top of his game between ten furlongs and a mile and a half. Turning in you felt William’s got everything right and he went there to go and win the race. We knew the challengers were going to come with that late run.”
Oisin Murphy and Andre Fabre got Arc day proceedings underway with victory in the card opening Group 1 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac over 1600m, which was won by Zellie, who performed superbly under a forceful ride from her Irish rider to win by a length and three quarters having moved to the front of the eight horse field with just 100m left to run. Times Square placed second with Oscula a further three lengths back in third.
Frankie Dettori picked up his third ParisLongchamp victory for the weekend in the following Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) for 2yos over 1400m next, winning with three fourths of a length to spare aboard Ralph Beckett’s Angel Bleu. Charlie Appleby’s William Buick driven Noble Truth was second with Ancient Rome, trained by Fabre and ridden by Barzalona, a further three fourths back in third.