Ruby Walsh has explained how Sottsass benefitted from a very slow early pace to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triopmhe at Longchamp on Sunday.
The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained charger, who was third behind Waldgeist and Enable in last year’s Arc, held on bravely to beat In Swoop and Persian King this time around.
Heavy rain led to very soft ground which hampered Enable’s chances of winning the race for a record-breaking third time, with John Gosden’s superstar coming home sixth.
Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby felt a sedate early pace played into the hands of the fast-finishing French contingent which accounted for the first five places.
RUBY WALSH: It was really testing ground at Longchamp on Sunday compared to what we had at Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Stakes [when Sottsass came third], but the whole shape of the race was different as well.
Without the Ballydoyle contingent [who were withdrawn on the eve of the race due to contaminated feed], there was no real pace in the race.
Persian King, who was a doubt to stay the trip, ended up on the front end. He went quite steadily, and that really suited the French horses such as Sottsass and In Swoop.
It suited horses with a real turn of foot, and Sottsass is of course a French Derby winner at 10 furlongs.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 4, 2020
In Leopardstown, when Ghaiyyath went hard and Magical went after him, Sottsass never got on the bridle. Going up to 12 furlongs, and going much slower, Christian Demuro always looked comfortable on him.
But it was a muddling contest – it turned into a dash. It was slower [than last year] by almost nine seconds and Sottsass came home in front.
But every race has to have a winner and the 2020 Arc will forever be the race won by Sottsass, In Swoop was second and Persian King finished third.
Our man Paddy Power agreed with Ruby’s assessment of the race, but hopes Enable will take to the track at least once more so that the six-year-old can enjoy a fitting end to such a decorated career.
PADDY POWER: John Gosden was pretty downbeat about Enable the day before the race, and he said he thought it was very likely that she would get beaten because the ground was so bad.
And the race did turn into a sprint, while there was a bit of drama in the race when Enable got sandwiched by Stradivarius.
An emotional day 😭
Frankie Dettori shares a moment with ENABLE after the Arc.
— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) October 4, 2020
I’m not sure if it was caused by Sottsass, and I certainly don’t think he should have been thrown out or anything, but that can’t have helped. If she wasn’t comfortable on the ground and was trying to make a move forward, getting banged about like that was not going to help at all.
She’s definitely not five or six lengths worse than the winner, and it’s just unfortunate but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to turn up and do it in different conditions and you can’t legislate for that.
Everyone has their day – some horses need fast ground, some need soft ground. Sottsass was trained for this one race all season.
Some would say his Irish Champions run was disappointing, others would say eye-catching, but the trainer was delighted with it. It was always part of the plan to race the horse at Irish or British pace, rather than the French pace.
Christian Demuro couldn’t believe his luck when he realised after a furlong how slow they were going, and then he started getting confidence because he knew he would be able to outsprint some of the others. He thought he would have been chasing Enable down.
It was incredibly ‘sporting’ for Enable to go for the Arc again, and go for immortality, and I really do hope she turns up at the Breeders’ Cup because she is a horse of our generation and I would hate to see her not going out on a win.
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