As a budding trainer, Aidan O’Brien had dreamed of winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
But after the Ryan Moore-ridden Found led home a one-two-three for the Ballydoyle stable — making O’Brien the first trainer in the race’s rich 96-year-old history to achieve that feat — the Irishman admitted such a prospect had never crossed his mind.
“You dream about winning but this is something you can’t even dream about,” he said afterward. “It’s beyond a dream. It’s not of those things you couldn’t even believe could happen. I can’t even put into words.”
Just outside Paris — the race having relocated to Chantilly racecourse with refurbishment work ongoing at Longchamp — it was befitting that the race win was sealed with a kiss.
Frankie Dettori, bidding for a fifth Arc win, had to make do with third place on Order of St George but then promptly locked lips with a startled Moore, the on-course commentator breaking from his own language to describe it as a “French kiss”.
Moore is not known for showing his emotions but he was at his most ebullient under the late-evening sunshine, and understandably so.
Riding the same horse in the same race 12 months ago, the filly was very much lost. A year on, the four-year-old was most definitely found, making a world-class field look distinctly average as she broke for home to break a 30-year-old old record and never looked in danger of being surpassed. With that, Found’s romance with the race was recaptured.
The 33-year-old Moore, who had won the Arc once before on the Michael Stoute-trained Workforce, said the O’Brien one-two-three would now go down in racing folklore.
“It’s one of those unique things like Frankie’s seven, Dickinson’s five and now three in the Arc,” said the jockey.
That Dettori, 20 years on from winning his “Magnificent Seven” at Ascot, should feature seemed apt.
Michael Dickinson, who famously trained the first five in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup, can only have been similarly impressed if watching from afar.
O’Brien is not one to talk up his own successes but one of the most globally successful trainers in the history of the sport admitted there was nothing that could top his Chantilly success.
“To get three horses in top shape and be the best around, it’s the hardest race to win in the world,” he said. “So it’s unbelievable. How could you say anything is higher than this? It’s such a hard race to win.”
While the one-two-three — his other mount in the race Highland Reel taking second — was massively down to the trainer, it was also a nod to Galileo, the previous Derby winner who had sired all three Ballydoyle runners.
It was a facet not lost on O’Brien, who repeatedly uttered the mantra “all three by Galileo” while shaking his head in disbelief in the paddock afterward.
Postponed, trained by Britain’s Roger Varian, had gone into the race as the favorite but struggled coming up the rising home straight to finish a disappointing fifth place.
Meanwhile, Japan’s 47-year-old love affair with the race remains unrequited, this year’s Japanese entry Makahiki failing to match the pace of Found or the rest of the leading entries.
Moore, though, insisted his ride was far from perfect, pointing out that Found, “went earlier than I might have liked but I thought ‘I might as well take the chance now’.”
Found had been accused by many of being a habitual bridesmaid with a litany of second places in big races, and Moore admitted “she can be frustrating at times”.
But added: “Remember, though, she’s won the Boussac and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Things worked out today, and on her best she is very hard to beat.”
That the victory should be on good ground at the picturesque Chantilly rather than its traditional home of Longchamp made little difference to the rider. He said simply: “To win an Arc anywhere is very special, it’s an honor.”
Her owners pocketed the top prize of $3.2 million in what is Europe’s richest race — the overall purse is $5.6m — and one of her owners, Michael Tabor, was understandably delighted with the result, describing her as “as good as it gets”.
The question now remains whether she returns to the Breeders’ Cup in November to defend her title.
Tabor said: “If she’s Found as we know her I guess that will be the plan. With all the talking in the world, the horses tell you.”
As for the clean sweep of the Arc places, he added: “I don’t think that’ll ever happen again.”