It wasn’t supposed to happen. The drama and intrigue of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and all the glamour associated with it, no one would have predicted a shock like the one we saw in the French capital. The city of love was appropriately named after the romance of flat racing was all but personified when Torquator Tasso strolled into town and stunned the Parisians.
Even his name is ironic. Torquator Tasso — a famous 16th century Italian poet, but there simply weren’t the right superlatives to describe how good of a performance he and trainer Marcel Weiss architected, with the picturesque view of the Paris sunset the perfect environment to defy all the horse racing tips.
While credit certainly has to be given to Weiss’s four-year-old, with hindsight few would have favoured him to go all the way at the start of the race. Coming in at a remarkable 80/1, the Rene Piechulek ridden horse prevailed in one of Europe’s richest races. There was a stunned silence around Longchamp, as if supporters were still made to stay in their homes as those in attendance were left in sheer disbelief as to what they had just witnessed.
For a jockey like Piechulek to be running in the Arc for just the first time, the result certainly surprised him: “I’m very honoured that I was able to ride in such a race,” he said. “I think it’s going to be tomorrow before I realise what it really means.
“There was not a lot of pace in the race and I tried to get a position towards the leading horses so that when we got to the final straight I could really launch my horse. He’s a horse that gets better and faster the longer the straight, so I wanted to make use of it.”
The big question now asked of Torquator Tasso is if he can replicate that success. After resisting the temptation to go to the Japan Cup so that he can rest up for next year, the objective should surely be to defend his title. The win in the Arc ensured he became the biggest mover in the eighth edition of the 2021 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, whist also putting him in contention for Cartier Horse of the Year alongside the likes of St Mark’s Basilica and John Gosden’s Palace Pier.
Since his success the upcoming mixed sales have been an opportunity for people to find ‘the next Torquator Tasso’ such is the magnitude of Weiss’s success back in October. He served as essentially a cover star for the BBAG after the Arc star, who was auctioned back in 2018, will now be the example of what to look for as buyers hope to uncover their own diamonds hidden in the rough — with his earnings on the cusp of £3 million as we approach the end of the year.
With the flat racing season at an end, it will be interesting to see if Torquator Tasso can pick up where he left off next year, or whether his reputation diminishes after the fateful day in Paris.