Until then the defeat of Orfevre by Solemia here on Sunday may be the most heartbreaking memory of all. Orfevre, winner of Japan's Triple Crown last year, looked certain to win when Christophe Soumillon cruised up to the leaders with a quarter of a mile to run. From the worst of the draw on the wide outside Soumillon had steered Orfevre into an ideal position to strike and he was still travelling sweetly in desperate ground. Camelot , the Derby winner, was already a beaten horse and, as Orfevre breezed past Solemia and opened up a lead, his in-running price on the Betfair exchange hit Then it all went wrong.
Orfevre suddenly started to hang to his right, into the whip, and the acceleration that had carried him clear ran out. Now Soumillon was looking for the line, desperate to keep Orfevre running, but his horse was slowing down and there was nothing more he could do. Solemia did not quicken significantly but she stayed on well under a strong ride by Olivier Peslier and that was enough. Orfevre hit the rail a few metres from the line but by then the Arc had already been lost.
I knew I could catch Orfevre and I kept coming a little bit and a little bit. Sometimes the jockey can make the difference and Olivier is the one who won the race. Nor did Orfevre offer him any assistance at all in the final furlong and, if Solemia was perhaps a little fortunate to win, she deserved the victory for her attitude alone. Orfevre started favourite on the French pari-mutuel [Tote] while Solemia was a chance, odds which added to the gloom among about 2, Japanese fans who had made the trip to Paris.
British bookmakers, too, could not believe their luck, with one suggesting that it was their best result in an Arc in living memory. Victory for Camelot and Frankie Dettori would have hit them hard but he looked a shadow of the horse who came home five lengths clear in the Derby at Epsom in June.
Dettori had risked his relationship with Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin, his principal employer for the last 20 years, to take the ride on Aidan O'Brien's colt but after travelling well enough until halfway down the straight there was no hint of a serious challenge for the lead as he faded into seventh. It emerged after the race that Camelot had lost one of his shoes and suffered a cut on a hind leg, and the deep ground is another possible excuse for his performance.
While only one horse had ever finished in front of him before Sunday's race the total is now up to seven after his first start against older horses.
He's also come back minus shoes. Hopefully he will have a good winter and he could be something unbelievable next year. In fairness to the horse he's been going for some time since the Guineas [in May]. It was noticeable in the paddock beforehand that Dettori himself seemed very relaxed in the pre-race huddle with O'Brien, John Magnier, the owner of the Coolmore Stud, and his fellow members of the syndicate.
It may yet be a sight that seems familiar by the time the racing world gathers in the Bois de Boulogne on the first Sunday of October next year.