PARIS – Japanese equine star Orfevre was promoted to favorite for the world’s most prestigious middle-distance race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, after winning the influential Arc trial, the Group Two Prix Foy, at Longchamp on Sunday.
The 2011 Japanese Triple Crown winner — who will bid to end a 32-year win drought for Japan which has seen three of its 12 runners finish in the frame — came home ahead of three-time European Group One winner Meandre in a slowly run five-runner race.
Some bookmakers made him favorite on the back of the win — William Hill makes him 4/1 favorite — but some remained loyal to last year’s Arc winner, German filly Danedream, who will bid to become the first horse to land successive Arcs since Alleged in 1978-79.
However, despite the victory leaving some question marks about how it would translate to a far bigger field and a rougher race in the Arc on Oct. 7, the four-year-old colt impressed his rider, 31-year-old Belgian Christophe Soumillon.
“I was very happy with the performance, the pace was a bit slow and he was a bit fresh but I just wanted to keep track of him on his first time at Longchamp,” said Soumillon, who has won two Arcs on Dalakhani in 2003 and the remarkable filly Zarkava in 2008.
“In two strides I got exactly what you need from an Arc de Triomphe horse. Its just what you want from a horse three weeks before the Arc.
“Hopefully he can improve a bit as he needs to improve to win an Arc but the trainer has done a perfect job so far.”
Zarkava’s connections will hope last year’s Arc runnerup Shareta emulates her after the latter won the Group One Prix Vermeille — the race Zarkava won in 2008 before winning the Arc — under Christophe Lemaire.
Her victory saw trainer Alain de Royer Dupre extend his record number of wins in the race to seven while owner the Aga Khan was winning it for the sixth time to edge to within one of the record for a winning owner of seven held by the late Marcel Boussac.