The 2008 Arc de Triomphe was one that will be remembered for a very long as it produced one of its most amazing winners, Zarkava. This three year old filly trained by Alain de Royet-Dupre became the first filly to win the race for fifteen years and it was her first race against colts. She had come into the race after six straight wins and was favourite to maintain her unbeaten record.
Zarkava, who went off the 13/8 favourite, had to win the race from a very difficult position even though there was no repeat of the sluggish start in the Prix Vermeille just three weeks before. Her performance in that race raised doubts about her attitude, that said she did seem to be a tad reluctant to follow the field as they set off at the start of the race.
However jockey, Christophe Soumillon soon calmed her down and he kept Zarkava racing serenely until the top of the Longchamp straight. She then began to cruise towards the front often making it look like the others were standing still. Once she went into overdrive she fairly sped past the pack on the outside and was easing down by the time any of the others began to strike back. Only Richard Hills, on Youmzain, found anything extra but he had to be content with second place for the second year running.
Soldier Of Fortune dead-heated for third place with It's Gino and was the best of the Aidan O'Brien's team. His other runner in the race, Duke Of Marmalade, who had been unbeaten during the season, faded to finish seventh.
Zarkava was retired to stud almost immediately after the race but she will go down in Arc and horse racing history. She became the first French filly to win the French 1000 Guineas, French Oaks, Prix Vermeille and the Arc in the same season and as a three year old. Allez France won all four in 1973 but had to wait until she was a four year old before winning the Arc, she had been second to Rheingold the year previously.
1st Zarkava, C Soumillon, A Royer-Dupre, 13/8 Fav.
2nd Youmzain, R Hills, M Channon, 12/1
3rd= Soldier Of Fortune, J Heffernan, A O’Brien, 9/2