James Doyle endures more Arc misery with Hurricane Lane
James Doyle’s cruel luck in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe continued when Hurricane Lane fell agonisingly short in his quest to become the first St Leger winner to land European racing’s most celebrated contest.
Three weeks after winning the Doncaster Classic, Hurricane Lane briefly led the Arc in the final strides before being pipped by Germany’s shock 80-1 winner Torquator Tasso, the mount of first time jockey Rene Piechulek, and Ireland’s star mare Tarnawa in a pulsating finish.
And this was just as agonising as the 2018 renewal when Doyle’s mount Sea of Class overcame a virtually impossible wide draw to finish a desperately close second to the Frankie Dettori-inspired Enable.
One of the country’s top riders over the past decade, Doyle rode a big race treble at ParisLongchamp on Saturday – the centrepiece was stayer Trueshan’s win in the Prix du Cadran – and testing conditions in the French capital appeared to favour Hurricane Lane.
Yet, in a race of rapidly changing complexions, it was Derby and King George hero Adayar that set the early pace after William Buick preferred this Godolphin runner to Hurricane Lane.
Adayar kicked off the final bend and appeared – fleetingly – to have the centenary edition of the Arc at his mercy before the pursuers, all stayers with proven stamina, began to close.
Hurricane Lane briefly hit the front before Torquator Tasso, one of the first off the bridle, flashed home for second season trainer Marcel Weiss to complete the biggest upset in the race’s illustrious history.
Weiss trains 50 kilometres from Mulheim and is a private trainer for owner Gestut Auenquelle. He said: “That was beautiful. He’s a very nice horse, he’s all heart. He’s a very strong horse. That was amazing.
“Rene is a very cool jockey, very cool. It was his first ride in the race. It’s very hard to digest and put into words how I feel, but our plan was hatched last winter.
“I felt he deserved to go for it and my hopes rose when the ground came in our favour. We planned to chase the leading horses and launch our challenge wide into the straight. It’s a long straight and we knew he would finish strongly.
“I had 20 years as an assistant before taking the reins two years ago and I’m so pleased the owner turned down an offer for the horse.”
Reflecting further, Weiss said: “It’s very, very difficult to understand I’ve won this race.
“Before the Arc, he’s produced some very good performances – he’s a dual Group One winner and a Group Two winner already. Even though I thought this was the strongest Arc of the last few years, we thought he deserved to run.
“We would have been very happy if he’d finished third, fourth, fifth or sixth – we would have considered that a success.
“The race itself went as we wanted. We wanted him to challenge on the outside, and launch himself in the straight. That he has won is a bonus.
“I’m just so happy I got to train a horse like Torquator Tasso, who was already a star in Germany. His owners refused an offer that was made, so I’m delighted to have him in my yard.
“You can’t really go higher than the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – I’ve dreamt about it, and now I’ve won it. It’s absolutely unreal.”
Meanwhile, Piechulek, the visibly shellshocked winning jockey, said: “I think it will be only tomorrow that I realise what it really means to win this race.
“I wanted to be in position, when we got into the final straight, to really launch my horse – because he really quickens and gets faster the longer the straight is.”
It was not to be for Tarnawa, who is now likely to defend her Breeders’ Cup Turf crown at Del Mar. Trainer Dermot Weld said of Christophe Soumillon’s mount: “We know the speed she has, but she just couldn’t quicken in the gluey ground.”
Meanwhile, trainer Charlie Appleby was thrilled with Hurricane Lane’s run – but said the fourth-placed Adayar hated the ground.
Yorkshire sprinters were out of luck in the Prix de l'Abbaye in which A Case Of You won narrowly from Air De Valse with Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers back in third.
Meanwhile, trainer Alan King will weigh up options for Trueshan, including a tilt at the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup that he won at Ascot a year ago.
Stamina-sapping conditions are ideal – hence why Trueshan skipped engagements at York and Doncaster. On running at Ascot in a fortnight, King said: “It’s only two weeks away and I’d quite like to enter him for the Prix Royal-Oak. That would give us another week. We’d probably prefer Ascot, but going back to Paris would be a good back-up plan.”