The first Sunday in October sees an influx of racing fans to France for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. After two years at Chantilly the race returns to Longchamp for the 2018 race as renovations at the course have been completed. The tracks have different features and the false straight at Longchamp means the shape of the race can change in the closing stages. In 2017 Enable was a decisive winner but not necessarily the best horse in the race. The three-year-old filly received weight from the older male horses and took full advantage of that concession.
The Arc is the richest Flat race in Europe and identifies the champion horse of Europe. Horses aged three and older are eligible which means it brings together the best of the Classic generation and older horses. Enable received weight so was the best weighted horse in the race. She returns to Longchamp this year but aged four will not receive any weight for age but the fillies allowance still applies. Enable is the clear favourite for a second win but and could be good enough to beat the better older male horses again. The Classic generation is represented by the colt Kew Gardens who won the St Leger and will benefit from weight for age but not gender.
The weight for age scale has passed the test of time and few fillies would be competitive without the sex allowance. However, the best horses should win championship races and the weight allowances muddy the waters. Horses do develop physically from three to four and colts and geldings are physically stronger than females. Racing is rare in that both sexes compete in the same contests but it is not a level playing field. In most sports there are specific events and leagues for men and women but male and female horse run in the same races in racing.
Since 2003 every winner of the Arc was aged three or four. Some top Flat horses stay in training as four-year-olds but very few run the following year. The winner of the Arc has much greater earning potential at stud than on the track. Treve won the Arc in 2013 and 2014 but came up short when the race favourite the following year at the age of five. She is the only back-to-back winner this century but she had the benefit of the allowances. Enable races under the same conditions as Treve in her second winning year. The filly ran a great prep race on the All-Weather at Kempton.
Enable was the 10/11 favourite in 2017 but was only the third winning favourite since 2004. In that time the SP’s of the winning horse ranged from 10/11 to 33/1. The average price of the winner over the last 10 years is about 8/1. Three of those winners started at double figure odds and two odds-on favourites obliged. The last two consecutive winning favourites won the race in 2008 and 2009 and despite not receiving the age allowance Enable can emulate those horses and Treve who won two Arcs in two years.