09/14/2014 1:43PM

Defending Arc champion Treve dull fourth in Prix Vermeille


Treve suffered her third defeat from as many starts this year, finishing a tame fourth in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille on Sunday at Longchamp and throwing into further disarray the list of leading contenders for the Oct. 4 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Baltic Baroness, winning at the Group 1 level for the first time, nipped Pomology in the Prix Vermeille, one of three Arc preps on the Longchamp card Sunday.

While Treve’s fourth-place finish surely was a disappointment for her owner, Sheikh Joann Al Thani’s Al Shaqab Racing, Al Shaqab partially owns the winners of the two other Arc preps, Ruler of the World, who captured the Prix Foy, and Ectot, who won the Prix Niel.

Treve, the runaway Arc winner last fall as a 3-year-old, had been second in the Prix Ganay and third in the Prince of Wales’s in her first two starts of the season. She was reported to have come out of the latter race with a hind-end issue, and trainer Criquette Head-Maarek said before and after the Sunday’s race that Treve’s feet had troubled her.

Whatever the case, Treve performed nowhere near her peak Sunday. Held up last in the 1 ½- mile race over good going, Treve never seemed altogether comfortable, and she carried her head at a slightly awkward angle even as jockey Thierry Jarnet guided her outside for a stretch run at the leaders. Treve made mild brief progress but came nowhere near sustaining her bid, barely holding fourth behind Baltic Baroness, Pomology, and Dolniya, and just in front of Sultanina. Baltic Baroness, trained by Andre Fabre, was ridden to victory by Maxime Guyon and timed in 2:28.22.

Head-Maarek said afterward it was too early to rule Treve out of the Arc.

Meanwhile, Ruler of the World, owned in partnership between Al Shaqab and the Coolmore group, and trained by Aidan O’Brien, won for the first time since he upset the 2013 English Derby. Unraced since a 13th-place finish in the Dubai World Cup this past spring, and ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori, Ruler of the World, typically a come-from-behind horse, went straight to the lead and never was headed in the Group 2 Prix Foy.

Dettori shook him up just after turning into the final straightaway, and Ruler of the World responded with a stylish1 ½-length victory over favored Flintshire. His 1 ½-mile time was 2:26.93, and Ruler of the World, if all goes well, is an intended runner in the Arc, where he was seventh last year.

Al Shaqab only recently bought a share in the 3-year-old Ectot, who rallied from last with a quick turn of foot to take the age-restricted, Group 2 Niel by a neck over Teletext.

Ectot, a Hurricane Run colt trained by Elie Lellouche and ridden by Gregory Benoist, was making his first start beyond one mile in the 12-furlong Foy while racing for only the second time as a 3-year-old. A top 2-year-old of 2013, Ectot won his sixth race in a row, having lost only in his career debut to the high-class 3-year-old Karakontie, and to at least some extent showed he could handle European middle-distances. A heavy-made horse, Ectot cruised past the field with ease when let loose early in the homestretch, but his lead dwindled in final stages as a resurgent Teletext tightened things up. Winning time for this 1 ½-mile race was 2:26.36.

Charm Spirit wins Moulin

The card’s other major race, the one-mile Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, went to Charm Spirit, who got a perfect trip while beating favored Toronado by a head. Tracking the leaders while saving ground all the way under Thierry Jarnet, Charm Spirit got through on the inside of tiring pacesetter Mogadishio, seeing off a stern challenge from Toronado, who could not quite get past the winner.

Night of Thunder, the English 2000 Guineas winner and the only horse to beat the excellent Kingman, closed strongly to finish third, just a neck behind Toronado, as Charm Spirit went a one-turn right-handed mile in 1:35.90. The winner and the third-place horse both are 3-year-olds, further validating the strength of this year’s crop of European 3-year-olds.

Freddie Head, a strong supporter of the Breeders’ Cup, trains Charm Spirit, but said after the race that the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot in October was a likely spot for Charm Spirit while all but ruling out the BC Mile. Charm Spirit, by Invincible Spirit, won for the fifth time in eight races and took down his second Group 1.