PARIS – Orfevre was just meters away from being on top of the world — and then came Solemia.
Japan again settled for second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as Orfevre, who went off as the top pick among a full field of 18, was beaten at the wire by a neck in the world’s most prestigious horse race on Sunday.
Four-year-old Orfevre, the reigning Japanese triple-crown champion ridden by two-time Arc winner Christophe Soumillon, became the third horse from his country to finish runnerup after Nakayama Festa in 2010 and El Condor Pasa in 1999.
Twelfth-choice Solemia, the 4-year-old filly ridden by Olivier Peslier, cut a winning time of 2 minutes, 36.78 seconds over the 2,400 meters on near yielding turf.
“First of all, I want to apologize to the people in Japan,” Orfevre’s trainer Yasutoshi Ikee said. “He had what it takes to win and we proved that Japanese horses truly are world class.
“But unfortunately, I wasn’t world class and couldn’t do enough to help him to victory.”
Orfevre, who also has the Grade 1 Arima Kinen and Takarazuka Kinen titles to his credit, went into the race on a high after winning the Prix Foy, the biggest prep race to the Arc, two weeks ago.