Welcome to F.I.E.L.D.- the First Ismaili Electronic Library and Database.

Zarkava proves she's first lady among equals in France as she romps to Arc triumph - 2008-10-05

Sunday, 2008, October 5
Marcus Townend

Carla Bruni yesterday gained a rival as the most photographed female in France as Zarkava produced a stunning performance to add her name to the roll call of Arc greats.

Bruni, the former model who is the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has grown accustomed to the paparazzi pressing cameras in her face, but the best filly in the world got a taste of the snapping tussle as the flickering lenses pressed into her in the winner's enclosure.

She kept calm. Fame, it seems, comes easily to unbeaten-in-seven Zarkava, who had drifted in the morning betting after unfounded stories that the ground was turning heavy against her.

More...Girl power can rule in the Arc - but filly Zarkava needs a jump start
Zarkava's No 1 test: Red hot favourite can't afford slow start in the Arc
Prix de l'Abbaye descends into French farce as Overdose is denied by chaotic false start

The photographers and camera crews knew they had witnessed something special, as the Aga Khan's galloping gem some had compared to the great Arc winner Allez France, the filly who captivated the nation in the early 1970s, swept through under Christophe Soumillon to beat Mick Channon's Youmzain two lengths.

Dead-heating for third place, half a length behind, were Soldier of Fortune and German outsider It's Gino.

Fears that Zarkava would blow her chance at the start proved unfounded but she was still sluggishly into her stride and approaching the straight, only four of the 16 runners were behind her.

But Soumillon eased off the rail and engineered a clear passage that may have been blocked had the previously unbeaten French Derby winner Vision D'Etat (fifth) had the same electric pace to hold her in.

Passing the post, Soumillon milked the moment in a way that makes Frankie Dettori look like a non-trier when it comes to playing to the crowd.

'Where are you all,' screamed the rider's expression as he peered back at his beaten opponents. He threw his crash helmet and whip into the crowd - British 'elf and safety would have had a fit - and launched himself into a flying dismount.

'It was the best moment in my life, coming into the straight, she was going so easily,' said the 27-year-old Belgian-born rider.

'This will be engraved in everyone's memory forever. She's a real jewel, a filly with such class that we are unlikely to see the same quality for 25 to 30 years.'

The Aga Khan agreed it was a special day, saying: 'There have been many other important moments in my life but in the racing world this is one of the most important.'

Zarkava's performance could also be measured by the milestones ticked off. The first filly to win since Urban Sea in 1993, the first filly of her age to win since the Aga's Akiyda in 1982 and the first from the tricky stall one since Prince Royal II in 1964.

Trainer Alain Royer-Dupre, who also won the 2003 Arc with Dalakhani, said: 'She has an ease of acceleration in just a couple of strides which is incredible.'

There is no plan to race again this year and beyond that is not decided but the Aga Khan does tend to pack his best stock off to stud.

For Youmzain, runner-up for the second successive year, it was case of frustration yet satisfaction for Channon, seriously injured in a car accident at the end of August.

The colt's progress up the inside rail under Richard Hills was hindered rather than hampered but it mattered not. Soldier Of Fortune was always in the firing line for Aidan O'Brien, but stablemate Duke Of Marmalade was in trouble a long way out before staying on for seventh.

Back to top