Zarkava Takes One for the Fillies

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1920 and is an annual horse racing event that takes place at the Longchamp Racecourse. This magnificent Group 1 event for three year olds and older is run over a distance of 2 400 meters. With a purse of four million euros, it lures competitors from all over the world. Tradition dictates that the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is run on the first Sunday in the month of October, hence the 2008 Arc took place on Sunday, 5 October 2008, and this year, a filly named Zarkava stole the show.

In 1993, a four year old filly, Urban Sea, showed her male counterparts who is boss, and in all the years of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, only seventeen mares or fillies have ever been able to walk away victorious from this prestigious event. On Sunday Zarkava found herself up against fifteen male competitors, and if she was intimidated by them at any stage she most certainly did not show it. Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Zarkava came into the race unbeaten in her previous six starts, of which her last three races were all Group 1 events, and was determined to keep it that way.

At the start of the race Zarkava moved a little to the right, being a bit startled at the white tape that marked the course instead of a rail. But Soumillion calmed her down very quickly and got her focused on the race instead. With five furlongs of the race to go, Zarkava and Soumillion still found themselves trapped behind a wall of horses, but patiently waited for gaps to open up and taking them one at a time to work their way through the traffic. Finally, after they were able to make a clean break, Zarkava turned on the power and started widening the gap between her and the rest of the contender field. Youmzain tried to chase her down, but could not catch the determined filly, and had to settle for second place, with Soldier Of Fortune and It’s Gino both finishing in third position.

In twenty-five years, only Urban Sea and now Zarkava have managed to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Zarkava has secured her place amongst the greats and will forever be etched in the history of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, as one of the best fillies to have ever competed.