Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Glorious in defeat

From a punting viewpoint, the Arc delivered aplenty with Orfevre easily hitting the Placings at unbelievably generous odds of 3/1. Obviously, from a sporting position, like many others, I would have loved it if he won it all. The race can be replayed time and again and how he lost the race would still be beyond anyone's comprehension. The start of the last straight was a sight to behold as he effortlessly stormed past some of the best middle-distance horses Europe had on offer. I was thinking of another demolition a la Danedream. Better, I was thinking that Frankel was right to stay home. Almost immediately, it unfolded into a nightmare as he idled and hit the rails as Solemia caught him on. World beater turned unlucky second.

Solemia ran the race of the life and deserves more credit than what she's getting, even though it will always be more the race that Orfevre lost and not the race she won. What he showed was he is a genius, albeit a flawed genius. If I hinted Camelot was, on talent, the best horse going in the race, I was wrong. Orfevre will destroy this field anytime if he finds a way to settle on these quirks. What a run from the impossible post position of 18 on a heavy sticky ground he'd never run before. I cannot see how his rider Soumillon can be faulted. He rode the perfect copybook race; he had the whip in the right hand in the straight. His ride deviated and idled through no fault of his.

Rarely does a horse come out of a lost race with his reputation enhanced. Orfevre is now a name that will warrant attention, not only within the shores of Japan. It looks improbable but Soumillon got tongues wagging when he mentioned an encounter with Frankel on British Champions Day. Frankel, Cirrus des Aigles, Orfevre. That would be something. What was interesting, if not intriguing, is Soumillon's assessment in the aftermath of Sunday's defeat that Orfevre was the best horse he'd ever ridden. Whether said in the heat of the moment or not, but it gives a reference point to Orfevre's exceptional talent; better than Dalakhani, better than Zarkava? On Sunday, we got oh-so-close to the realm of fantasy land.

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