The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has it all

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The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has long been the top horse race held in France, as famous as the Kentucky Derby. All roads lead to Paris in October when, among many other top races, the Arc as it is often referred to, takes place on the Longchamp course. This year sees the 100th running of this legendary event.

The dates to put into your 2021 diary are Saturday, October 2, and Sunday, October 3. Two fantastic days of horse racing at the end of a long, hard European season. It’s the date of the event that is so important. Races such as The Derby and The Oaks will have been held in the UK already, and top horses will have one major European target, namely winning the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.

This is a race with over 100 years of history. It was in 1920 that it was first staged. Only in 1939 and 1940 was the race not run, and that makes the 2021 version the 100th race. Not the 100th at Longchamp, though, as from 2016 to 2018, the race was held at Chantilly.

That was because of renovations taking place at Longchamp that cost €150 million. Sixty thousand racegoers can now head to the course to see one of the most famous races.

Horse racing fans from all over the world travel to see this weekend of racing, because betting on horse racing is something that takes place globally. Just as it is for top American races such as the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup meeting, the ante-post odds are always available. That is the case with horse racing in France, and there are already odds available for the 2021 race as well as all the races that will take place before that.

Horses at Least Three Years Old

The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is a very special race for several reasons. One is the age of the horses taking part. If you want to win The Derby or the 1000 Guineas, the entrants have to be of a certain age. In the case of those two named races, horses have to be aged exactly three years old. With the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, the qualification is that the horses are aged at least three years old.

Why does this make the race so fascinating? Well, with The Derby, a horse can only take part in it once. With the Prix de L’Arc Triomphe, you can keep coming back year after year. Unlike those other races mentioned, the Arc is a case of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’

For example, Corrida came third in the race in 1935 as a three-year-old. The filly then went on to win the Arc for the next two years before being retired to stud. More recently, Enable won the race as a three and four-year-old but failed to win again in 2020 at the age of six.

It’s a race where the different generations battle it out over a mile and a half distance. Can a three-year-old that has been winning major races that year beat a horse that may be three or four years older? Of course, if they can’t, then they can just come back the following year.

It’s also a race that is the battle of the sexes. The current favorite for the 2021 race is Love. A talented filly who won the Oaks last year. Another leading fancy is Tarnawa, who won three races in the States last year. Could the winner of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Turf win the Arc this year?

Some of the greatest horses that have been in training have won the Arc. The list includes legends such as Sea the Stars, Dancing Brave, Alleged, Mill Reef, and Ribot have won the race. Not every great horse wins this race, though. To this day, people still talk about how in 1970, Nijinsky could only come second.

Then, of course, there’s the fantastic prize money that can be won. This is the second richest turf race in the world, with £1.5 million for the winner.

The weekend isn’t just about the big race. There are nine Group 1 races held over the two days. This sees some of the best horses taking place, hoping to win one more big race before the season comes to an end.  There may be some who head to the States for the Breeders’ Cup the following month.

The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe really does have it all. Ninety-nine previous Arcs have produced so many memorable moments. Just what will happen in the 100th running of this race?