TUESDAY 3 OCTOBER 2000
http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/

Johnny Murtagh congratulates Sinndar after victory in the Prix de líArc de Triomphe yesterday.

Sinndarís Arc win lands heroic treble

Steven Till

It was billed as the showdown between Europeís top older horse and the young pretender - and in the end youth prevailed as Sinndar powered to victory in the Prix de líArc de Triomphe-Lucien Barriere at Longchamp yesterday.

Jockey Johnny Murtagh waved the Irish tricolour in triumph as he celebrated his nationís first success in the contest since Alleged completed his second Arc victory in 1978.

Whether or not Sinndar will be given the opportunity to match that feat remains open to discussion between his trainer John Oxx and owner, the Aga Khan.

However, becoming the first horse to complete the treble of the Vodafone Derby, Irish Derby and Arc gave the three-year-old his own niche in the history of the sport.

Sinndarís owner is certain of one thing, that his Grand Lodge colt ranks as high as the legendary Shergar in his thoughts. "This is an exceptional horse," he said after greeting the winner.

When asked if he was up there with Shergar, the Aga replied: "You would have to say so. I have to consider him now among the very best I have seen."

There were few worries for connections of Sinndar for most of the 12-furlong contest although their hearts skipped a beat as Raypour, given the task of ensuring a decent pace for his more illustrious stablemate, was not sighted coming out of the stalls.

However, Niall McCullagh eventually forced his mount to the head of affairs and as the field settled it was the Oxx pair who took them along.

That was the way it stayed until the ten combatants entered the straight when Murtagh nudged his mount to the front for a lead he would not relinquish.

There were certainly enough challengers but the horse everyone expected to turn the race into a battle, last yearís winner Montjeu, failed to strike a blow.

Jockey Michael Kinane kept his mount to the outside after leaving the dreaded stall 10, only electing to go for the rail when turning for home.

The partnership looked set to launch a challenge around two furlongs out when moving into fourth but when the question was asked of the four-year-old the answer was negative.

Montjeu failed to pick up and it was left to the fillies Egyptband and Volvoreta to cause Sinndar the biggest problems close home.

In the end neither could get in a real blow as Sinndar stayed on to record a length-and-a-half verdict over the former, with Volvoreta a further three lengths back in third. Montjeu was another two lengths adrift in fourth.

"That was a great win today, itís been a long time since Ireland won the Arc," said Murtagh as he dismounted.

"Heís everything I thought he was and I was never worried at any stage of the race."

The question now remains whether or not Sinndar remains in training. To do so he would break a tradition of the ownerís family. Neither the Aga Khan, nor his grandfather, have kept any of their Derby winners - nine in total - in training as four-year-olds.

However, the prospect of a change of heart was not ruled out by connections who announced they would discuss the future this week.

Murtagh made it a day to remember in Paris as he enjoyed another two Group1 wins to go with his victory in the Arc.

The jockey gained wins on Namid in the Prix de líAbbaye de Longchamp-Majestic Barriere (with Britainís Superstar Leo second), and Petrushka in the Prix de líOpera-Hotel du lac Barriere to go with his triumph on Sinndar.