Investec Derby (Eng-I) hero Workforce returned to form to capture the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) by a hard-fought head over Japanese raider Nakayama Festa at Longchamp Oct. 3.
The victory gave trainer Sir Michael Stoute and jockey Ryan Moore their first ever win in the race, and provided Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farm with its fourth Arc victory in what has been an outstanding year.
Elie Lellouche stablemates Planteur and Pouvoir Absolu went straight to the lead from the start, with Planteur eventually settling into second behind Pouvoir Absolu. Midas Touch, one of three runners for trainer Aidan O’Brien, was third, as his stablemate Fame And Glory sat just behind the early leaders in sixth.
As the field entered the home straight, Planteur took over the lead but was quickly joined by Nakayama Festa. Workforce was also making tremendous progress, driving up to challenge the leaders with two furlongs left.
With just over a furlong remaining, Workforce split Planteur and Nakayama Festa to take the lead. Workforce and Nakayama Festa battled to the finish, with Workforce finding just enough to hold off the challenger for the victory.
French Oaks (Fr-I) winner Sarafina came flying late on the outside but had to settle for third, 2 1/2 lengths further back. Her stablemate, Behkabad, finished fourth, with Fame And Glory fifth. Planteur finished seventh but was disqualified and placed last for interference in the final furlong.
Final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:35.30 over the very soft going.
Workforce was only given the go-ahead to run in the Arc thre days before the race after he turned in an impressive workout for Stoute. The trainer told reporters after the race, “If you have any ambition when you start training, you want to win the Arc. We have had a lot of horses running particularly well in it without doing it, so I’m thrilled.
“Workforce’s come here on the back of a big disappointment,” Stoute said, referring to his distant fifth-place effort in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot July 24. “It’s been a big team effort and the jockey gave him some ride.”
The King George flop as the 7-10 choice came on the heels of Workforce's seven-length romp at Epsom.
A very pleased Moore said of his colt, “I was always confident throughout the race; he was travelling nicely and had a very good rhythm. There was a bit of scrimmaging, but fortunately he got a nice clean run.
“The Derby and the Arc were probably my biggest two ambitions, and this horse has supplied them both now,” Moore continued. “He’s a very good horse. Things weren’t right at Ascot, but the boss put him back in great shape and I was fairly confident today. We just needed a bit of luck, and we had that.”
Workforce, who has now won three of five starts in his career, was bred in England by his owner. A 3-year-old son of King's Best, he is out of Soviet Moon, by Sadler’s Wells. Soviet Moon is a full sister to champion Brian Boru, who captured the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) and Seabiscuit St. Leger (Eng-I).
Workforce’s second dam is Eva Luna, who was champion older mare in England in 1997. By Alleged, Eva Luna is a half-sister to Rougeur (by Blushing Groom), the dam of 2001 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner, Flute.