Billionaires in battle, the longest bar in France & huge in Japan

NEVER worry about the race that stops a nation, it’s the one that barely slows down a city – unless you are 6,000 miles away in Japan.

The Japanese love their races and they absolutely love the Arc de Triomphe.


Dettori has won the Arc more than any other jockeyCredit: AP: Associated press
It might not stop a city, but the Arc de Triomphe is all glamorous


It might not stop a city, but the Arc de Triomphe is all glamorousCredit: Alamy

Orfevre seemed certain to have given them their first winner in 2012, until he was overtaken by outsider Solemia to death.

But they seem to have a good chance in Chrono Genesis this year, the steed of champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

Note that he may consider himself lucky to be still here after his terrifying fall in the paddock at Salisbury on Thursday.

The whole of Japan could very well stop to watch the big race – worth £ 4.3million – at 3.05 on Sunday.

But on Ground Zero, wander around Paris, just over three miles from the course, and you’d be forgiven for never knowing the race was on.

In Australia, the natives revel in the way everything stops for the Melbourne Cup, the jewel in their crown, and having been Down Under on the big day, it’s no exaggeration.

But in France, ask one of the inhabitants of the Arc, and you will probably get a puzzled shrug and most likely “have no idea”. .

Thousands of English and Irish will have had October 3 in their diaries for months, like the 100th edition of this great race. In the French capital, it will simply be Sunday.

Again, this is how they tend to view their horse races, wherever they are and regardless of the price. Not Cheltenham, Royal Ascot or Aintree.

Try to book a hotel when one of these three shows is in town and unless you are quickly ready to pay a fortune, forget it.

But Paris for the Arc? Well, that’s a whole different story. In fact, earlier this week there were still a lot of tickets available.

France Galop talks about a crowd of 40,000 for Arc Day, roughly double what they usually get for opening day of Longchamp’s two-day reunion, but even that sounds a bit fanciful .

Considering that around half of the gate is made up of British and Irish fans, it’s no wonder the organizers are begging people from these shores to make the trip.

Many will, of course. Loving that they can make their annual pilgrimage again, after Covid restricted the crowds to 1,000 a year ago.

In fact, only their presence in the bars and restaurants around Port Maillot and the Bois de Boulogne makes it possible to realize that something abnormal is happening.

Not that a trip to the Arc is the Jolly Boys outing that you can associate with the Grand National or the Gold Cup.

Most of those who cross the Channel for this will be middle-aged, seeing the race as one of the sights and attractions of Paris on a long weekend.

Certainly not a contest to see how much Guinness they can drink, as Longchamp proudly boasted of ‘France’s longest bar’ when it reopened after a £ 123million overhaul in 2018.

This time around, there’s no chance of winning a fairy tale either, with Enable retired after two failed attempts at a record treble. Still, it’s even more appetizing than usual.

Charlie Appleby is England’s best prospect, with Derby winner and possibly favorite Adayar, as well as St Leger hero Hurricane Lane.

Aidan O’Brien is pinning his hopes on the heroine of Oaks Snowfall, Tarnawa is an even stronger Irish challenger and Chrono Genesis could give the racing fanatic Japanese a very first triumph.

If one of them gets home first – and there’s a good chance they will – you’ll hear the roar of Longchamp on the Champs Elysees… regardless of the size of the crowd.


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