October is a great month for racing and hopefully, equine flu scare or not, we will be treated to a fabulous Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate but, before we get carried away by the home scene, please don’t forget that European racing is drawing to a climax in the same month.

Spare some time to take an interest in one of the world’s great races held this year on October 7th, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. This month’s article presents the punting rules for success in the “Arc”, which should help you eliminate unlikely candidates from the full field of runners. Betfair offers you the chance to really have a crack at the great race and it would be nice if our TABs could cover the race as well (with Sky or TVN screening it live).

After the devastation of the First World War there was, not surprisingly, a great deal of gloom and despondency floating around France. Europe had surprised itself by the new heights of death and devastation it had reached to a point where post-war misery was rife around the whole continent.

Amidst this dark European mood, a few brave souls dared to bring some kind of uplift and fun to the masses while at the same time commemorating the triumph of the allied victory against the empires of Germany, Prussia and Austro-Hungary. This piece of mass entertainment was the race known as the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe run at France’s principal track, Longchamp. First run in 1920, the “Arc” was named for the famed Arc de Triomphe created by Napoleon and sought to echo the sentiment of the Arch in a new triumph won by the people of the French, Russian and British Empires.

The race continued up until the Second World War where it was only stopped for the 1939 and 1940 runnings, continuing on in 1941 with the Nazi hierarchy in close attendance. Anyhow, after WWII, the race’s conditions changed with the winning prizemoney substantially increased to 25 million francs – a vast sum for the time. This made the “Arc” Europe’s richest race and, as a consequence, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe became the jewel in the crown of French racing.

It is an honour much sought-after by trainers across Europe and every “Arc” is a fiercely competitive event. The race is a treasure to behold and it is now run as the final event on a glittering eight race card that includes seven other Group 1 races. This “Group 1” day takes place on the first Sunday in October, while a Group 2 card is raced on the Saturday, which basically means that “Arc” weekend is one of the finest weekends of racing on offer anywhere in the world. For me, this weekend’s racing is nothing short of heavenly and I would strongly urge any Australian punters to watch and bet on the “Arc” itself as it’s a terrific race that has a real formula for punter success behind it. Just follow the rules below.

Before I begin though, I should let you know that all the numerical ratings used in this article will be in reference to the UK Racing Post’s two ratings systems – Racing Post Ratings (RPR) and Topspeed (TS). Any European horse’s form can be looked up on-line on the Racing Post’s website at www.racingpost.co.uk.

RPR – Racing Post Ratings
A rating given to any horse by the Racing Post’s handicapper. When reading a horse’s form in the Racing Post you will find this number declared in the “RPR” column, which is the last column on the right-hand side of the form. An RPR rating should appear for every race that the horse has run in, excluding some of the minor races run in “B”- class racing nations such as Italy and Germany.

TS – Topspeed
A rating given to any horse by the Racing Post’s time-orientated handicapper. When reading a horse’s form in the Racing Post you will find this number declared in the second-to-last column on the right-hand side. Like the RPRs, A TS rating should appear for every race that the horse has run in, excluding the egg-and-spoon races.


  • An “Arc” contender will need to have come at least 3rd on their last start in a Group race of 2000m – 2400m (1¼ miles – 1½ miles or 10 furlongs – 12 furlongs). More exactly, a contender will have come 1st/2nd/3rd in a Group 1 or Group 2 race. If the last start was a Group 3 then they will need to have won it. A last start consisting of a placing in a Group 3 is not good enough.
  • In terms of its Racing Post Rating and Topspeed Rating, a contender will need to have achieved a minimum RPR of at least 117 and a TS of 74 on their last start. Anything less should be considered as an inadequate last start performance. Do not accept an RPR of 116.
  • The last start must have taken place from August 15th onwards.

An excellent run on a contender’s last start is essential for success in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. This race is incredibly competitive so a horse cannot enter this race half-cocked. The Racing Post ratings are important to note here as these figures are very well assessed and help to eliminate many potential contenders.

The vast majority of “Arc” winners come by way of the “Arc” trial races held in the middle of September at Longchamp. Many an “Arc” watcher will tell you that the best “Arc” system would simply be to back the winner of the Prix Niel-Gr.2 for three-year-olds, as this race has provided the winner on many occasions. The Niel winner is certainly one to watch out for as the other trials have rarely provided the winner, but the Niel is not really the be-all and end-all of “Arc” assessment.

The other trials, incidentally, are the Prix Vermeille-Gr.1, a Group 1 for fillies and mares and the Prix Foy which is for 4yos and upwards. Neither the Foy or Vermeille seem to offer many clues these days but another key “Arc” trial, held on the same September weekend, is the Irish Champion stakes. Of course the Irish Champion stakes is very much a race in its own right but it has been known to provide the “Arc” winner on a number of occasions. The other “trial” races to consider are the Juddmonte International-Gr.1 over 1m 2 – furlongs (2100m) at York and the 1m 2f – 1m4f (2000m-2400m) Group races held at Deauville. Both the York and Deauville meetings are held in mid-August.


  • Three-year-olds have won 16 of the last 25 “Arc”s.
  • Four-year-olds have won seven of the last 25 ‘Arc’s.
  • Horses aged five have a very poor strike rate, as only four have won since 1945 (6 per cent strike rate) and only two in the last 25 – 30 years.
  • No horse older than five has won.

The stats speak for themselves. Concentrate on the younger brigade in the 3yo – 4yo bracket. The stats for 5yos plus are quite damning when you consider that 100-odd horses aged five and over have tried to win the “Arc” over the last 25 years.

The “Arc” barriers have a story to tell that is not unlike the Caulfield Cup barriers and there are obvious parallels between the two races. Both are highly competitive Group 1 races raced over 2400m with (usually) large fields of horses being sent around a turn. As with the Caulfield Cup, most “Arc” winners come from a handy, midfield or rearguard position. The handy midfield racers prefer a low to middle draw, as do the swoopers; although the swoopers can handle very wide draws as well. The barriers to avoid are horses drawn in barriers 1, 10 and 11.

These have the worst record of all as no winners have come from these positions. Barrier 1 always forces a horse into a very forward position but so much energy is used up trying to maintain that position that a horse invariably becomes a spent force no matter what a jockey tries to do. Barriers 10 and 11 seem to be positions that help no horse no matter what its racing style. Actually, I say 10 and 11 but it’s probably more accurate to say that it’s best to avoid horses that are drawn over halfway in the barriers but still end up having four or five horses on their outside. Getting a horse into a useful position from these pozzies seems to be just too hard. At least well handicapped horses have a chance in these kinds of barriers in the Caulfield Cup but at Weight-for-Age the chances for a horse drawn in these places are reduced to almost nothing.

From 1974–1983 no less than four fillies won the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. However, since All Along in 1983, only one filly has scored a victory Urban Sea, (mother of Derby-winning sire Galileo) in 1993. This means that the girls have only struck once in the last twenty-three runnings of the “Arc” and the trend may yet continue. Many high-class fillies and mares had been sent to the “Arc” for the last 23 runnings and the female strike rate in this race nowadays looks very meagre indeed. Approximately 90 females went for the “Arc” over this time so the statistical evidence suggests that you’d need to think twice before backing any one of the girls. No doubt one will come along one day soon to set the record a bit straighter but for now the stats for girls look bleak.


  • Over the last twenty years, all “Arc” winners have had at least one “staying” dosage point in their profile or Dominant Classicity (DC) has prevailed. DC is where the “Classic” category has more points than all the other categories in the dosage profile put together. Staying dosage points are represented by the “Solid” and “Professional” categories.
  • All bar one “Arc” winner of the last 25 years had a minimum of 18 dosage points in their profile. The exception had 10 dosage points.  Refer to www.pedigreequery.com for free dosage and pedigree information.

Three Year Olds (3yo)

  • In terms of its Racing Post Rating and Topspeed Rating, a contender will need to have achieved a minimum RPR of at least 117 and a TS of 92 during their 3yo season, anything less is simply not good enough.
  • All 3yo winners had a minimum winning strike rate in their full careers of 57  per cent.
  • All 3yo winners had a minimum win-and-place strike rate in their full careers of 71  per cent.
  • All bar two previous 3yo “Arc” winners, had won a 2000–2400m Group 1 race during the season that they won the “Arc”. The two that hadn’t had both won the 3yo 2400m Group 2 “Arc” trial known as the Prix Niel.
  • Not since 1986 has a 3yo “Arc” winner won a race at 1600m Group race earlier in their season.
  • English or Irish St Leger winners have a very poor record in the “Arc”.
  • No 3yo “Arc” winner ran in races beyond 2400m before the “Arc”.
  • No 3yo “Arc” winner ran lower than 8th during the season he won the Arc.
  • All 3yo “Arc” winners had a minimum of three runs during the season that they won the “Arc”.
  • All 3yo “Arc” winners had been rested for at least five weeks either before the “Arc” itself or before their last race.

Four/Five Year Olds (4yo – 5yo)

  • In terms of its Racing Post Rating and Topspeed Rating, a contender will need to have achieved a minimum RPR of at least 120 and a TS of 101+ during their career.
  • All 4yo/5yo winners had a minimum winning strike rate, in their full careers, of 35  per cent.
  • All 4yo/5yo winners had a minimum win-and-place strike rate, in their full careers, of 68  per cent.
  • Four out of five 4yo/5yo “Arc” winners had won a 2000-2400m Group 1 race during the season they had won the “Arc”.
  • No 4yo/5yo “Arc winner” had won races beyond 2600m in their careers.
  • All 4yo/5yo horses had won or been placed in a 1600–2400m Group 1 race outside of the country where they were trained.
  • In the last 25 runnings of the “Arc”, any 4yo/5yo horses that had competed in a previous “Arc” (regardless of where they had finished) had lost.
  • No 4yo/5yo “Arc winner” ran lower than 5th during the season he or she won the “Arc”.
  • All 4yo/5yo “Arc” winners had been rested for at least five weeks either before the “Arc” itself or before their last race.
  • All 4yo/5yo “Arc” winners had had a minimum of two runs during the season that they won the “Arc”.

Plenty of info here about what your selection must have achieved in terms of ratings, distance, rest patterns and consistency. Incidentally, apply the “Last Start Performance”, “Age”, “Breeding” and “Gender” rules to the field before you study career performance. Doing this will help you to separate the wheat from the chaff and will help to save you time. Once you’ve applied those rules you can then begin to apply the career performance rules. If you find you have created a short-list and not one single selection, then read the following note as it will enable you to create an order of precedence for these contenders.

NOTE: If your short-list contains more than one eligible candidate of mixed age groups, then choose any 3yo over the older candidates. If, after this, your short-list still has more than one 3yo then choose the one that has scored the highest RPR during its career so far. If, however, your short-list is comprised simply of 4yo/5yos then, similarly, choose the one that has scored the highest RPR over the last two years.

The Likely Candidates for the 2007 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe
This year’s “Arc” looks as competitive as ever with some top-class nominees from all around Europe looking likely to clash. It’s a mouth-watering prospect and I can’t wait to see it. Currently, we have Authorized installed at around 2/1 favourite by the British bookies with Zambezi Sun, Manduro, Soldier Of Fortune, Dylan Thomas and Peeping Fawn sitting in the 5/1 – 7/1 range. I’d be quite surprised if the winner doesn’t come from this group.

If one of the more typical “Arc’s” line-up, where there are 14-plus runners, then I think it’s likely that Authorized will win the “Arc” – particularly if the ground is softish. However, if a similar line-up comes together like last year, where there was a small field running on dry ground, then I’m not so sure that Authorized will be best advantaged in such conditions, especially if he draws barrier 1. Actually, Authorized is a swooper so the number 1 draw will work against him heavily, no matter how the conditions turn out. Dylan Thomas is a star but I’d be concerned if he went to the “Arc” via the Irish Champion stakes as this might end up being one run too many for him.

I doubt that Manduro will be best suited to the “Arc” conditions quite frankly and only a small field and dry ground would aid his cause. He’s also a five-year-old, which counts against him considerably. Soldier of Fortune looks a very interesting proposition but will probably need at least a double-figure field or soft ground (probably both) to make his mark. He may end up going for the St Leger anyhow. Zambezi Sun seems to be best of the French and he may well be good enough. His Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp this year looks excellent but his breeding and form suggest that only dry ground and a small field will do for him.

Peeping Fawn is a filly (and I have warned against backing fillies in this race) but I must say that she has won as much admiration from me as any other horse mentioned within this wrap-up. She’s a very serious horse who probably would have won half of the Arcs raced in the last twenty years. However, if she makes an appearance she will be up against some very stiff opposition from the colts.

Authorized, Manduro and Dylan Thomas have all earned RPRs of 130 or more this season and these are proper Group 1 figures. If they all show up then we will be looking at a very high-class “Arc” indeed. Here’s who I see winning in the various stamina conditions:

Good or firmer – 9 runners or less = Zambezi Sun
Good to Soft or softer – 9 runners or less = Authorized
Good or firmer – 10/20 runners = Authorized
Good through to Soft – 10/20 runners = Authorized
Heavy – 10/20 runners = Soldier Of Fortune

By Julian Mould