Sottsass earned a Timeform rating of 127 for his victory in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, identifying him as one of the lowest-rated winners of the race this century.
Always close to the steady gallop set by Persian King, Sottsass was produced to lead a furlong out and kept going well to land the spoils by a neck from the staying-on In Swoop, with Persian King holding on for third from Gold Trip.
The first four were covered by a little over two lengths, which limits how positive a view can be taken of the form, especially as those with the best credentials on Timeform ratings, Enable and Stradivarius, both underperformed. The race was also run in the slowest time since 1976, a result of the modest pace and very testing conditions.
Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and jockey Cristian Demuro were both the winning the Arc for the first time, and each of them deserves credit for their part in Sottsass’ performance. Demuro was always in the right place in a messy affair, while Rouget had targeted Sottsass at this race since he finished third in 2019, duly having him right at his best when it mattered most.
It’s worth pointing out that Sottsass didn’t need to improve on last year’s performance to emerge victorious this time, while he has also run to a Timeform rating of 127 on two other occasions, winning the Prix du Jockey Club in 2019 and then only narrowly failing to concede 7 lb to the 121-rated Skalleti in the Prix Gontaut-Biron at Deauville in August.
In terms of Arc winners, however, Sottsass ran to a level that wouldn’t have been good enough to prevail in most other years. The four-year-old fillies Solemia (123 in 2012) and Enable (126 in 2018) – both of whom received 3 lb from the older males – are the only winners to have achieved a lower rating this century, while his effort is on a par with that of the 2007 winner Dylan Thomas.
That 2018 success was Enable’s second successive win in the Arc, but she has now met with defeat on both subsequent attempts to bring up a historic three-timer. Sent off the odds-on favourite on Sunday, she could ultimately manage only sixth, with trainer John Gosden blaming the heavy going and steady pace after she had finished out of the first three places for the first time in her career.
Nevertheless, that reversal on what is likely to prove her final start should do nothing to detract from her remarkable achievements during a career spanning 19 starts.
11 of her 15 wins came in Group 1 company, while her best performance on Timeform ratings – when winning her first Arc as a three-year-old in 2017 – identifies her as the best filly or mare trained in Britain since Pebbles, the winner of the Eclipse, Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf in 1985.
Enable was at the absolute zenith of her powers at Chantilly, putting up an imperious performance to beat the top-class older horses Cloth of Stars and Ulysses by two and a half lengths, earning her an end-of-season Timeform rating of 134.
Admittedly, she hasn’t been quite so far ahead of her rivals (if at all) over the course of three subsequent seasons in training, but her record continues to be one of high achievement, notably running to a Timeform rating of 128 or above on three other occasions.
She ran to a rating of 129 in two successive starts last season, winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and Yorkshire Oaks, both races she had also won as a three-year-old. And, while history may have eluded her in this year’s Arc, she did achieve another significant milestone when becoming the first three-time winner of the King George earlier this season, running to a Timeform rating of 128 in doing so.
A great credit to her connections, Enable has been a joy to watch and will leave some big shoes for the likes of Love – a notable absentee from this year’s Arc – to fill next season.