October 5, 2003

Dalakhani sweeps to victory in Arc

PARIS, France --The Aga Khan's Dalakhani, ridden by Christophe Soumillon won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, at Longchamp.

The 9-4 second favorite, trained by Alain de Royer Dupre, swept a length clear of 25-1 shot Mubtaker, with 13-8 market leader High Chaparral coming third for the second year running.

Dalakhani, the French Derby winner, needed all his noted speed and stamina to overcome a poor draw and desperately soft ground to add the Arc to his earlier success.

Soumillon, 22-year-old Belgian, was given a tremendous reception by the 40,000-crowd, and reached the unsaddling enclosure in tears.

The French champion-elect was drawn in stall 14 on the wide outside and Soumillon waited patiently, before slowly edging towards the front.

The grey bore down on leader Mubtaker in the straight, and went to the front to a tremendous roar from the stands inside the final furlong.

"This is a race I've wanted to win since I was an apprentice. It's an honor to ride such a champion, I love him so much," a breathless Soumillon said.

Marcus Tregoning, trainer of Mubtaker, thought for a second the 2003 Arc was destined for his runner.

"A furlong and a half out I thought we had a great chance, but Dalakhani's a very, very good horse."

High Chaparral hit a flat spot going round the final bend before accelerating again under Michael Kinane.

"High Chaparral's run all his best races running left handed and perhaps he's not quite as good going the other way," said trainer Aidan O'Brien.