Head defiant about Arc repeat despite Treve defeat

Treve remains on course in her bid to become the first horse in more than 30 years to win successive Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes despite finishing fourth in the Prix Vermeille on Sunday, her trainer Criquette Head-Maarek said at Longchamp.

Last year’s winner of Europe’s most prestigious race went down to her third defeat in three runs this year despite Head-Maarek’s bold decision to restore Thierry Jarnet as the jockey instead of legendary Italian Frankie Dettori.

While the filly — who won this Group One race en route to the Arc last year — came with a strong run down the outside she failed to quicken in her old style and Jarnet opted to ease her up and leave the finish to English challenger Pomology and Andre Fabre’s Baltic Baronness, with the latter prevailing.

A visibly emotional Head-Maarek, who also won the Arc with another filly Three Troikas in 1979, held impassioned discussions with the entourage of the owner, Sheikh Joaan Al-Thani, in the enclosure afterwards while Jarnet said “her (Treve’s) engine was still there but she failed to respond”.

Irish champion Alleged is the last horse to have won successive Arcs in 1977/78.

“Don’t rule her out of the Arc,” said Head-Maarek, who could be heard yelling in English from the stands “come on Thierry come on” as the race reached its climax.

“This was a good effort by her, don’t forget she was out for a month because of an injury so this is a good return.

“One is always disappointed when one loses but let us not have a kneejerk reaction. I will do everything to have her ready for the Arc.

“You can never entirely get rid of a cyst in a hoof but the ground should be softer on Arc day and that will suit her,” added the 65-year-old before going off to speak with Sheikh Joaan.

Fabre, who has won the Arc seven times, said that his filly could be supplemented for the big race.

“She was always a horse we thought a lot of and this is a day we were waiting for her to show her quality,” said the 68-year-old.

“We always planned to keep her in training next year when she will be even better but now we will have a rethink about the Arc.”

Dettori, who had been said to be ‘upset’ by Head-Maarek taking him off Treve, wore a broad grin in the race after the Vermeille as he guided another of Sheikh Joaan’s horses, last year’s Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World — whom the Qatari paid a reported 10million dollars for a half share earlier this year — to victory in the Group Two Prix Foy.

The winner, trained by Aidan O’Brien in Ireland, had his odds slashed from 33/1 to 14/1 although the race has proved a poor guide to the Arc winner over the past two decades.

“He gave me a lot of confidence he stays well so hopefully it (the Arc) doesn’t turn into a sprint,” said the 42-year-old Dettori.

However, with Ruler of the World having failed to fire in the Arc last year the italian may be rather more interested in the choice that Gregory Benoist makes.

The unfashionable French jockey has two crack possibilities in French Oaks winner Avenir Certain and Ectot.

The latter returned in devastating style, after five months out of action, to storm home in the Prix Niel under Benoist for trainer Elie Lellouche, who won the Arc back in 1996 with Helissio.

Benoist, who only won his first Group One last November, said it would be a tough decision for him to take as Ectot’s performance so impressed the bookmakers that he was slashed from 16/1 to 5/1 having been 50/1 a month ago.

“It is a position I would rather be in than not to have a choice to make atall,” said Benoist.

“I will talk to both camps (Avenir Certain is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget) and then make my mind up. It may be at the last moment.”


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