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Demuro offers late father 'best present' with Sottsass's Arc triumph

Jockey Cristian Demuro celebrated as Sottsass won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Jockey Cristian Demuro celebrated as Sottsass won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Christophe ARCHAMBAULT AFP
4 min
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Paris (AFP)

French horse Sottsass won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday a victory that jockey Cristian Demuro says is the best present he could offer to his father who died less than a month ago.

Enable's bid to become the first horse to win the race three times ended in disappointment at ParisLongchamp as she finished sixth.

Sottsass -- third last year -- gave trainer Jean-Claude Rouget his first victory in the race although he had to endure a nervous wait after a steward's enquiry.

Demuro could breathe a sigh of relief as he had been leaning towards riding Rouget's other runner Raabihah, but the former Italian champion jockey had a judicious change of heart.

"I am really feeling a lot of emotion as I lost my father not even a month ago," said Demuro.

"I think he was directing me from the sky.

"I had a weird feeling all week and I believe I have offered him the best present possible.

"It is a childhood dream achieved."

Enable was prominent on entering the finishing straight but Frankie Dettori failed to rouse the 2017 and 2018 winner.

It was the first time in her 19 races she had finished outside the first three.

Her stablemate, the three-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Stradivarius, also failed to take to the ground and finished seventh.

"It was too deep (the ground) it killed her (Enable) action," said Dettori.

German Derby winner In Swoop finished like a train to take second while long-time leader Persian King was third.

Demuro and several of his fellow jockeys were called into the stewards room to watch the finish and give their version of events.

The last time an Arc winner was disqualified was Sagace in 1985 handing victory to Enable's owner Prince Khalid Abdullah's Rainbow Quest.

When the result was confirmed social distancing was disregarded as the trainer and others hugged in the paddock.

Rouget required a glass of water before reacting to having at last conquered the Arc -- gulping it down in one go.

"It is great to win the Arc of course because it is like no other race," said the 67-year-old.

"I prefer the spring classics as they are less complicated.

"By the time the Arc comes the horses are tired and the ground is unpredictable.

"We won because we prepared the horse for this race....we lost races this year in order to win this one."

Owner Peter Brant watched from the United States but his racing manager Michel Zerolo relayed his reaction.

"He is overjoyed as this has been a lifetime ambition to win the Arc," said Zerolo.

"I think he has had four runners before without success so he told me seeing Sottsass triumph gives him just huge joy."

- 'She has been a joy' -

For the Enable camp there were no regrets.

"She has given so much to everyone to the whole sport," said Prince Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe.

Grimthorpe said Prince Abdullah will decide whether that was her final curtain.

"There are no regrets, expectations are always very, very high with her, pretty enormous really.

"But to win three King George VI's, two Arcs, a Breeder's Cup, an English Oaks, an Irish Oaks and a Yorkshire Oaks it is an extraordinary CV for any racehorse.

"Really she has been a joy."

The race took place after the dramatic decision by Aidan O'Brien to withdraw his four runners due to their returning positive tests believed to be due to contaminated feed.

Ironically O'Brien's employers Coolmore Stud will have ended up with a smile on their faces as they are part-owners of Sottsass and he could well be making the trip to stud there come season's end.

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