Establishment of the Prix L’Arc de Triomphe
In the 19th century, French horseracing was regulated by the Societe d'Encouragement, who organised races and kept records of all of the events that were held at the time. The governing body launched the Grand Prix de Paris in 1863 in an attempt to bring together all the best horses from all over France, and the race was held at the famous Longchamps Racecourse. The racecourse was already a popular venue, having opened seven years before to a massive crowd that included the Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugenie. The Grand Prix de Paris was extremely successful and so it was continued each year, and in 1893, the governing body founded the Prix du Conseil Municipal, a horse race for international horses of different age groups. This race differed slightly in that it intended to invite some of the best international thoroughbreds and it was also a weighted race. The weights were used to make the competition more even, with weights added to horses depending on their performance in previous races.
In 1920, when France was still recuperating from the aftermath of the First World War, the committee decided to introduce a new event to revitalise the country. The race was determined to be similar to the Grand Prix de Paris, to showcase the best horses in France, without using any weights and run over the same distance of 1 1/2 miles. The name Prix de l'Arc de Triomph was chosen after the Arc de Triomphe monument, which was where the Allies had their victory parade in 1919.
The first race was held on Sunday 3 October 1920. The prize for the winner was set at 150,000 francs and the inaugural race was won by Comrade, a British-bred colt who was owned by the Count Evremond de Saint-Alary. The race was an instant hit and soon took over the Grand Prix de Paris to become the most prominent race in France. In the years between 1920 and 1939, there were three horses that won the race twice, including Ksar, Motrico and Corrida, all French thoroughbreds. Ksar belonged as well to the Count Evremond, but the horse raced for the widow of the recently deceased Edmond Blanc, the founder of the Saint Cloud racecourse. Motrico was five years old when he won his first race in 1930. Initially the horse was retired after the race, but he returned to the race two years later, with jockey Charles Semblat and won his second race at the ripe age of seven years old, becoming the oldest horse to win the race.
In 1925, the first disqualification in the race's history took place. French thoroughbred Cadum initially won the race, but was put into second place after the jury decided that the jockey had tried to cheat by hindering the runner up Priori, and so the first place was awarded to Priori.
Between the years when Motrico won his two races, a French filly called Pearl Cap won the Prix de L'arc de Triomphe, becoming the first female horse to ever win. 5 years later in 1936, Corrida, a French Mare that was owned by Marcel Boussac, won the race and she won again the following year, becoming the first female horse to win two races.
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was not held during 1939 and 1940, but when the races returned, Boussac continued his interest and hired Charles Semblat, who by then had retired from being a jockey and became a trainer. The two had success over the next 9 years, at first with a horse called Djebel, who placed second in the 1941 race and then won the following year. The next horse that brought success for Boussac and Semblat was Ardan, a colt sired by the famous Pharis who was one of the greatest French runners of the century. Ardan won the race in 1944, and then two years later Boussac's fourth race winning horse Caracalla won the race. In 1949, Boussac and trainer Semblat won once again with a young filly called Coronation.
In 1948, Migoli, an Irish-bred British-trained thoroughbred that was owned by Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III, won the race. Aga Khan would enjoy one more victory in 1952 with a horse called Nuccio, and his son would enjoy a win in 1959 with a horse called Saint Crespin. In 1950 and 1951, a French thoroughbred called Tantieme won the races. He was jockeyed by Jacques Doyasbere, who had already won two races as a jockey with Marcel Boussac and Charles Semblat. Mario Incisa Rocchetta also became a multiple race winning owner when his British-bred, Italian trained horse Ribot won the competition in 1955 and 1956, winning by a massive 6 lengths in the latter.
Up until the 1950s, the owners who took part in the race were mostly French, but by the 60s and 70s, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe had attracted numerous international thoroughbred owners. The race was sponsored by the government, using funds from the Loterie Nationale. By the 1970s the government funding had diminished and the race was sponsored by several companies such as Trusthouse Forte, CIGA Hotels and Groupe Lucien Barriere.
British businessman Robert Sangster had success at the races as an owner, winning with Alleged in 1977 and 1988, and Detroit in 1980. Alleged became the first ever American horse to win the race twice and was jockeyed by the legendary Lester Piggott.
In 1982, Aga Khan IV, the grandson of Aga Khan III and son of Prince Aly Khan, won with British-bred French-trained horse Akiyda, jockeyed by Yves Saint-Martin. Saint-Martin enjoyed wins previously with Sassafras in 1970, and Allez France in 1974 who was owned by a French art dealer called Daniel Wildenstein. Wildenstein enjoyed two more wins in 1983, 1984 and 1997.
Aga Khan IV continued his interest in horseracing and was paid off with wins in 2000, 2003 and most recently in 2008.
In 1985, Khalid Abdullah, a member of the House of Saud, became the first Arab owner to win the race with his horse Rainbow Quest. He won the following year as well with a horse called Dancing Brave, both were jockeyed by Pat Eddery. He would win the race again with Rail Link in 2006 and Enable in both 2017 and 2018. Enable was jockeyed by Frankie Dettori, an Italian horseracing jockey who had huge success in the UK. Enable, a British filly, had a hugely successful career, not only winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe but also in top graded races such as Breeders' Cup Turf, Epsom Oaks, Irisk Oaks King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks.
Winners and Records
The Horse with the Most Wins
There have been eight horses who have won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe twice. They are Ksar (1921, 1922), Motrico (1930, 1932), Corrida (1936, 1937), Tantieme (1950, 1951), Ribot (1955, 1956), Alleged (1977, 1978), Treve (2013, 2014) and Enable (2017, 2018)
Jockey with the Most Wins
Frankie Dettori is the leading jockey with the most wins, having finished first 6 times. He won in 1995, 2001, 2002, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Trainer with the Most Wins
Though many great trainers have had success at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Andre Fabre is the most successful with 8 wins. He won in 1987, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, and most recently in 2019.
Owner with the Most Wins
Two owners in the history of the race have won a record 6 times. Marcel Boussac's horses won the races in 1936, 1937, 1942, 1944, 1946 and 1949. Khalid Abdullah's horses won in 1985, 1986, 2006, 2010, 2017 and 2018.
The record time was set in 2016, when a horse called Found ran the racing distance of 1 1/2 miles in 2 minutes and 23.61 seconds.