Late favorite Alpinista (Sir M. Prescott/L. Morris), the five-year-old gray mare, wins the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the rain at ParisLongchamp.

Vadeni (C. Rouget/C. Soumillon) was second, and last year’s winner, Torquator Tasso (M.Weiss/F. Dettori) was third.

The gritty mare took the lead from Japanese pacesetter, Titleholder, in the last 200 meters of the final straightaway and held on despite a persistent late rush by Vadeni whose rider, Christophe Soumillon, left the track in tears.

“I thought I had it until the very end,” said the dismayed rider who said he wanted to win for owner Claude Rouget’s family.

Alpinista’s 74-year-old trainer, Sir Mark Prescott, a reluctant international traveler, was present from the UK. It was the first Arc victory for the winning trainer of over 1,300 races. He saddled the first five-year-old mare to win the Arc since Corida in 1937.

The winner of the 101st Arc is the daughter of undefeated British Champion, Frankel (out of Al Wilda by Hernando, grandsire Galileo). A great story in European turf racing the past two years, the smallish mare was bred by her owner, Kirsten Rausing, who sent her to legendary trainer Prescott.

She showed great promise as a two-year-old, winning her maiden at Epsom Jul. 18, 2019 under Luke Morris who would become her regular rider. Her following start in the Prestige Stakes (G3) at Goodwood was marred by her unsettling in the gate, a slow start and a disappointing sixth finish in a seven-horse field.

Alpinista was sent to Paris two weeks later for the Prix d’Aumale (G3) at Longchamp. Running towards the back throughout the race on soft turf, she finished a strong fourth, less than a length off the winner, Savarin.

She had a muddled three-year-old campaign in 2020, hampered by COVID-imposed restrictions that kept her off the track until July. She raced that year under three different trainers in each of her three starts. She finished second in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) for Aidan O’Brien, second also in the Princess Royal Stakes (G3) for Ralph Beckett. Her lone win came again under Prescott in the European Breeders Fund Fillies Stakes.

The mare was returned to Prescott for her 2021 and 2022 racing seasons. Racing in Great Britain, Germany and France, Alpinista was undefeated in 2021 and to this point in 2022. She has now won eight consecutive starts, six at the Group One level.

Early indications are that the mare would be aimed to the Japan Cup (G1), but may try to equal Champion mare Enable’s winning 2018 feat and take on the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland, Kentucky Nov. 5.

The Arc win carries an expenses-paid berth to the BC Turf in this year’s “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup race program. A run in that race would make Alpinista eligible for Champion Older Turf Female Eclipse Award consideration. A horse must race only once in the U.S. or Canada to vie for North America’s highest year-end awards.

Feature image: ©ParisLongchamp