Recent trends in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

September 26th, 2022

By virtue of being Europe's year-end, middle-distance championship, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) can lay serious claim to being the most important race in the world. Year in and year out, no race anywhere else attracts a field with the depth and breadth that typically assembles for the Arc.

Perhaps the one trait that makes it so special is that virtually any kind of horse can win it. Although a common wet Paris autumn can create conditions that make it less likely for an otherwise logical contender to run well, it's never a shocking surprise when the best horse on the day turns out to be a three- or four-year-old filly, rather than a male of similar age.

With the 2022 edition of the Arc at Longchamp coming up this Sunday, Oct. 2, here's a look at recent trends in the 1 1/2-mile fixture.

Older horses, and fillies in general, have reasserted themselves

Following a period when three-year-olds won 15 of the 20 Arcs held between 1992 and 2011, older horses have reasserted themselves by taking seven of the past 10 runnings.

Fillies went through a fallow period from 1982 through 2011, winning just five of the 30 Arcs held during that span. However, the last decade has seen six female winners, including the repeaters Treve (2013-14) and Enable (2017-18). The last time there were so many female Arc winners in a 10-year span was from 1972-1981, when there were also six.

French-trained horses have been winning at a historically lower rate 

Unsurprisingly, French-trained runners have dominated for much of the Arc's history. Although they've won slightly more than two-thirds of all Arcs in the century-old race, their rate of success has only been 50 percent in the last two decades. In that period, Britain has produced five winners, Ireland three, and Germany two.

Three last-out preps have been the most productive

In the period from 2007-21, three preps have yielded 11 of the 15 Arc winners. The Irish Champion (G1), over 1 1/4 miles at Leopardstown, has produced five winners, while the course-and-distance Prix Vermeille (G1) for fillies and mares has yielded four. The other that has produced at least two winners is Germany's Grosser Preis von Baden (G1) over 1 1/2 miles.

Two local preps that have produced fewer Arc winners of late are the Prix Niel (G2) and the Prix Foy (G2). The Niel incredibly produced 10 Arc winners in a 13-year span from 1994-2006, but coinciding with the trend mentioned earlier, the fixture for three-year-olds has proven a far less popular stopover since Rail Link captured both races in 2006.

The Foy, for older horses, yielded 2019 Arc winner Waldgeist, but he was the first Foy performer to win the Arc since Subotica way back in 1992.

Favorites have been worth standing against

The post-time favorite has been a tremendous bet-against in the last 20 years of the Arc, during which only four have won. Those were Enable (2017-18), who lost two other times as the favorite, Sea the Stars (2009), and Zarkava (2008). During that span, only 11 favorites hit the board.