The English raider alpinista stormed home on Sunday at Europe’s most prestigious race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, scoring a hugely popular victory for her 74-year-old trainer Mark Prescott.
The badass filly and favorite fought valiantly under Luke Morris to hold off French Derby winner Vadeni with last year’s winner Torquator Tasso ridden by Frankie Dettori running well to take third place.
It was Alpinista’s sixth straight Group One win and it brought tears to Prescott, who had been ordered by owner Kirsten Rausing on a rare trip abroad.
Loud cheers greeted the 7-2 favorite as she crossed the line and then returned to the winner’s enclosure with Morris.
“It was a great day, the best day of my racing life,” said Prescott, who made his first trip to Longchamp in 21 years.
“She does everything right, she made the training easy, she got a little bit better every time.
“For Kirsten, I am very lucky to have her as an owner.
“I have been with her for 36 years and have trained Alpinista’s grandmother and mother.
Morris, 33, showed little sign of nervousness on his first drive in the race but was blown away after crossing the finish line after waving his whip in celebration.
“This is the peak of my career. I can’t thank them for giving me the opportunity to deliver for them that day,” Morris said.
“I can’t describe how emotional I am. I held back tears on the way into the team and I usually have those emotions under control.
“She traveled beautifully, felt like we were going a little too fast early on.
“She is a very special filly, she always surprises me.”
It was also a long-awaited goal for 70-year-old Rausing, but she admitted she was more nervous than Prescott.
“I’m excited and excited. A master trainer in Mark Prescott and Luke who has ridden her in all her victories, many thanks to her and to the staff at Lanwades Stud.
“I’ve been pacing since yesterday!
“I am thrilled and grateful to have such a great racing mare. I have been breeding from this family for 40 years!”
As for twisting Prescott’s arm to fly over Rausing, he said it was easier than watching the race.
“To be honest, he gave in pretty easily.”
Prescott grinned and said, “I was light meat.”
– ‘Heart of a Lion’ –
Tears also flowed from Vadeni’s coach Jean-Claude Rouget, who is usually not ready for such outbursts of emotion.
“It takes so much to bring a horse to a race like this in every way,” said Rouget, who coached Sottsass to win the 2020 Arc.
“I release emotions, but I’m also blown away by my friend Mark Prescott.
“The winner is a crack, but mine is very special. I thought we were coming to win it as Christophe (Soumillon) passed the leaders on the straight.
“But his lack of stamina and the rain-soaked ground did him good. But he has a lion heart.”
Dettori said he once dreamed of claiming a record-breaking seventh arc win despite an unfavorable wing draw.
“He’s such a good horse and he ran a great race,” said Dettori.
“It doesn’t help (being out) but that’s his racing style.
“Inside you definitely have to have a lot more ground under your feet.
As for the Japanese, they’ll have to wait another year to see if their national anthem will ring around Longchamp like God Save The King did for the British triumph.
Despite a four-pronged record attack and defending champions long setting the pace, the ground may have spotted them as none was seen during the crucial stages.
The second-favourite Luxembourger never came into play or threatened to give coach Aidan O’Brien a third win at the Arc.