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Zark de Triomphe - 2008-10-06

Monday, 2008, October 6

ZARKAVA was crowned Queen of Europe after a breathtaking win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp yesterday.

The Aga Khan’s unbeaten filly, who was stretching her run to seven, has never been more impressive as she stormed two lengths clear of Youmzain in the Paris thriller.

Soldier Of Fortune dead-heated with It’s Gino for third but Duke Of Marmalade never looked like winning his sixth Group 1 of the season.

Zarkava became the first three-year-old filly to win the race since Akiyda, also owned by the Aga Khan, in 1982.

Last time at Longchamp Zarkava was slowly away and had to come from last to first to win the Prix Vermeille.

This time she had to weave her way through from an inside draw. Once she did the race was over.

Over 10,000 Brits left Longchamp knowing they had seen one of the greatest Arc winners.

BBC TV’s Jim McGrath said: “This is the 10th Arc I have called but I’ve never seen a more impressive winner. She was electric.”

It was hats off to winning jockey Christophe Slumillon. Anyone who thinks Frankie Dettori is a master showman should see this cocky jockey in action.

Moments after he had past the winning post he threw his riding cap to the crowd.

He told me: “There is not a single weakness with Zarkava. She is a true champion. The way she won today will remain with me all my life.

“She is by far the best filly I have ever ridden.”

Greeting Zarkava was the Aga Khan, who said: “This win is the result of decades of breeding and I’m so thrilled.

“No decision has been made about her future but she will not race again this year.”

Spare a thought for trainer Mick Channon, whose gallant Youmzain was runner-up for the second year running.

Channon, recovering from the injuries he suffered in a car crash on his return from Doncaster sales, was at home at West Ilsley.

He said: “I’m really chuffed by the way he ran. I just feel we didn’t have a fair cut at the winner as we had to ride round other horses.”

Youmzain’s rider Richard Hills said: “I tried to go up the fence but it didn’t quite happen as the gap closed.

“He’s run a great race and he’s probably even better than last year.”

Aidan O’Brien said of Soldier Of Fortune and Duke Of Marmalade: “I’m not using the ground as an excuse, they’ve both run good races.”

But not good enough to cope with the Aga Khan’s latest superstar.

I was told many years ago - when in doubt back the Aga. In Paris last night thousands of happy punters were glad they took that advice.

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