Dalakhani Completes French Derby-Arc Double

Dalakhani Completes French Derby-Arc Double
Photo: AP/Francois Mori
Dalakhani wins the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
French Derby winner Dalakhani is once again the toast of Paris with his stirring performance in winning the 2003 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) at Longchamp Sunday.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, the Aga Khan Irish hombred 3-year-old son of Darshaan was sent off as the 5-2 choice at Longchamp. Winning at Longchamp for the fifth time in as many starts, Dalkhani defeated 33-1 Mubtaker by three quarters of a length in a time of 2:32 for the 1 1/2-mile classic on heavy going. Second choice High Chaparral, last year's Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner, was third while prompting the early pace on the inside.

``I knew I would win the Arc,'' said Soumillon, who called the winner the ``best horse in the world.''

Facing older horses for the first time, the grey Dalakhani, a half-brother to champion Daylami, won for the eighth time in nine career starts. He became the seventh 3-year-old to win the Arc in the past nine runnings, and the 50th in the 82-year history of the race.

Dalakhani added the $1.8 million Arc to the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby), Prix Lupin, and the Criterium International, his other group I victories on French soil. The winning purse Sunday was worth $1.1 million, pushing Dalakhani's career earning to more than $2.5 million.

His only loss was by a half-length to Alamshar, also owned by the Aga Khan, in the Irish Derby (Ire-I) at The Curragh June 29.

Alamshar and Sulamani, who would have been top contenders Sunday, passed the Arc in favor of North American starts later this month.

Dalakhani, who started from the outside 13th stall, raced in 11th on the outside through the first turn as stablemate Diyapour set the early pace tracked by First Charter and High Chaparral on the inside. Still mid-pack toward the outside as they hit the final straight, Dalakhani began to pick them up, catching Mubtaker, who had cleared away under Richard Hills, close to home and edging away.

High Chaparral was caught behind Mubtaker with Vinnie Roe on his outside and lacked much response when called upon by Mick Kinane. Doyen was fourth, followed by Vinnie Roe.

The 6-year-old Mubtaker is owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum and trained by Marcus Tregoning.

``We'll have to come back and win it next year -- he stays in training,'' Tregoning said. ``It was a great thrill because we were really worried about the ground.''

A distant third was High Chaparral, who returned from a shoulder injury to win the Ireland Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Curragh Sept. 6 and was a co-favorite with Dalakhani.

High Chaparral, trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by Mick Kinane, won last year's Breeders' Cup Turf.

Jockey Frankie Dettori, who came in fourth on Doyen, snapped his two-year Arc winning streak. The rider captured the 2001 edition with Sakhee and last year's race with Marienbard.

Dalakhani paid $8 in the United States wagering pool.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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