10/05/2002 11:00PM

Marienbard upset winner of Arc


PARIS, France - Marienbard gave Godolphin its second successive victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday as Frankie Dettori brought the 5-year-old son of Caerleon with a storming late run to defeat Sulamani by three quarters of a length.

As a result, he will be considered for either the Breeders' Cup Turf or the Japan Cup, but a date at Arlington must be the favored choice as the Japanese race will be run at 1 3/8 miles this year, and Marienbard would surely prefer the twelve furlongs of the Turf.

Following the Godolphin Arc triumph of Sakhee last year, Marienbard appeared to have only a dark horse's chance at 9-1 after victory in a pair of Group 1 races in Germany, the last in the Grosser Preis von Baden.

But although French Derby winner Sulamani and Epsom and Irish Derby winner High Chaparral ran well to finish second and third, it was the veteran traveler Marienbard who prevailed while getting the 1 1/2 miles on good ground in a rather quick 2:26.70.

Last year Godolphin had sent Marienbard to Australia for the Melbourne Cup in which he finished seventh.

"We tried to make him into a Cup horse," explained trainer Saeed bin Suroor, "but he has so much class that we put him back to a mile and a half."

Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos Family's Sulamani, said that he would not be pressured into making a decision about the Breeder' Cup Turf until after the excitement of the day had died down. Sulamani looked briefly like the winner inside the final furlong but could not quite get to Marienbard.

Like Sulamani, High Chaparral will improve for this outing, so we should not be too surprised if the first three Arc finishers line up in the Turf on Oct. 26.

"He's run so well when you consider that he's been off for three months," philosophised Aidan O'Brien. "And he was so sick in the middle of the summer with a virus. He's run a great race. We will see how he comes out of this before making a decision about the Turf."

Bright Sky victorious in Prix de l'Opera

Bright Sky returned to the form which landed her the French Oaks with a remarkable 4-length victory over Irresistible Jewel in the Prix de l'Opera. However, it is the Dermot Weld-trained runner-up who will line up for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Bright Sky, a daughter of Wolfhound trained by Elie Lellouche, shot to the lead over a furlong out in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 contest for fillies and mares to win going away from Irresistible Jewel, who had earlier won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 3 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.

"We just met a better filly on the day," Weld said, "but we'll send her to Arlington for the Filly & Mare Turf."

As for the 9-10 choice Bright Sky, who got the ten furlongs in 2:02.30, Lellouche said: "She could go in the Filly & Mare or the Hong Kong Cup." But a minute later, her owner Alec Wildenstein had something different to say.

"The Breeders' Cup comes too soon for her" he said. "Twenty days is too quick to bring a 3-year-old filly back. Hong Kong is a possibility and she will certainly stay in training next year when her goal will be the Arc."

Italian rider premature in celebration

Mirco Demuro, Italy's leading jockey, embarrassed himself after he had ridden the 73-1 Slap Shot to a tight photo finish with Continent in the 5-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp.

With the judges still trying to separate the pair in the developing room, Demuro rode Slap Shot into the paddock winners' enclosure thrusting his fist into the air in apparent victory. He then stood up on Slap Shot's back for a grandstanding flying dismount. All of that was followed by a television interview in which he crowed about how great it was to win the Abbaye.

Ten minutes later, Demuro had egg on his face when Continent was declared the winner by a nose. With no more rides left, the Italian slunk out of Longchamp for a chastening journey back to Milan.

Continent, the winner this summer of the 6-furlong Group 1 July Cup, rallied in traffic under Darryll Holland to get the bob. His time for the five furlongs was :57.20.

Hold That Tiger impresses in Grand Criterium

Hold That Tiger turned in the most impressive performance of the day in winning the 7-furlong Group 1 Grand Criterium for juveniles.

Still last and widest of all at the furlong pole in the field of fourteen, the Storm Cat colt showed an incredible acceleration under Kieren Fallon to catch the game runner-up and pacesetter La Vie dei Colori to win by half a length while being timed in 1:20.70.

The Aidan O'Brien trainee had been an inexplicable ninth behind stablemate Spartacus in the Phoenix Stakes, but showed Sunday that he will be a strong Guineas contender next year.

Favored Six Perfections cruises

In the one-mile Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac for 2-year-old fillies, Six Perfections recorded her expected victory at 4-5.

The Pascal Bary-trained daughter of French Derby winner Celtic Swing was an easy two-length winner over Etoile Montante with third place Luminata another five lengths back in third. The winning time was 1:37.90.