When an international crowd of horse racing enthusiasts gathered at Longchamp racecourse in Paris on Sunday October 5th, there were many doubters expressing concern that French filly Treve was no longer capable of defending her Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe crown which had been secured with much aplomb just twelve months previously. The Criquette Head-Maarek trained horse had failed to win in four subsequent races, with reported back problems and a failure to act on the prevailing sound surfaces cited as plausible excuses. Yet horses can defy the form book as Treve proved in the 2014 renewal of Europe’s richest horse race.
During a flat season when it appeared that Treve may have lost some of the old sparkle, there were other contenders in the race offering more serious credentials for claiming the ‘Arc prize. Unbeaten French horses Ectot and Avenir Certain were among the favourites with Epsom Oaks winner Taghrooda and St Leger victor Kingston Hill providing the main challenge from across the English Channel. For the large Japanese contingent present at Longchamp, Harp Star and Gold Ship lined up alongside Just A Way to provide a triple Far Eastern challenge.
Prior to the race Alec Head, who is the father of Criquette, had indicated that Treve was already a course and distance winner and would be close to success again but the remarks were considered rather optimistic for a filly finishing only fourth in the Prix Vermeille just three weeks prior to the ‘Arc.
Yet the Head family are vastly experienced in the horse racing business and that prep race may have been ideal in allowing Treve to regain her race fitness after a disappointing effort when only third at Royal Ascot in June on unsuitable good to firm ground.
Thus, there was confidence in the camp as a reasonable pace was set in the Longchamp feature race, with Montviron leading from Kingston Hill on going described as good. As the runners emerged from around the final bend, the ‘Leger winner attempted his move for home but Treve was soon upsides the English horse and quickly established a lead of several lengths.
At that stage, the spectators were expecting a response from the more fancied runners but Treve maintained the relentless gallop and was an impressive two length winner from French trained horse Flintshire with Taghrooda and Kingston Hill back in third and fourth place respectively.
Treve received deserved applause from the spectators in the grandstand but special praise is also due to trainer Criquette Head- Maarek who managed to dispel the myth that the filly would never regain her former glory. The performance of Treve on the day was reminiscent of her display of superiority in October 2013 and after several setbacks this season, it has been a fine training effort to restore the horse to her old well-being.