Treve was the horse that nobody wanted.
In October 2011 the Haras Du Quesnay Stud tried to offload her at the Arqana horse sale. Two years on and the slightly-built filly will line up as one of the favourites at Longchamp on Sunday in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s most valuable flat race.
It is has been an extraordinary transformation under the guidance of Criquette Head-Maarek, her Chantilly-based trainer, from scrawny youngster to a filly that is widely regarded in France as the best of her generation.
We believe in her and we believe that we have a great trainer and we hope we can win the Arc for not just us, but all Qataris
Her remarkable abilities were advertised at the highest level in June when she won the Group 1 Prix de Diane, a French Classic race in which she showed a burst of acceleration that resulted in her breaking the track record.
Such a performance warranted active courtship.
It was only a month later that Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad of Qatar came calling and paid a sum rumoured to be $10.8million for the daughter of Motivator, an English Derby winner.
She was kept off the racecourse until three weeks ago when she extended her unbeaten record to four with a win in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp. Her time was faster than both Orfevre and Kizuna, her Japanese rivals on Sunday who won their respective trials on the same day at Longchamp.
With $3.7million to the winner, Sheikh Joaan will not recoup his financial outlay immediately, but win or lose her acquisition came with an even loftier target in mind.
The regally-bred filly is being lined up as the genesis to a long line of thoroughbred racehorses who in the future will run in Sheikh Joaan’s grey and mauve silks. Essentially, she is seen as the foundation mare to an equine dynasty.
“We believe that she is a spectacular filly,” Nasser Sherida Al Kaabi, Sheikh Jooan’s media director, said. “We believe in her and we believe that we have a great trainer and we hope we can win the Arc for not just us, but all Qataris. This race has become a passion for all Qataris.
“Anybody who understands horseracing knows Treve is a special filly. We saw in her that she can be a real competitor in the Arc. She has special talent and undoubtedly she will be one of the best broodmares around.”
At the beginning of the season Treve was still slight of frame, so much so that Head-Maarek did not enter her into the Arc at the early entry stage in May. Treve’s seasonal debut was delayed because a farrier hammered a nail mistakenly through her foot but she recovered sufficiently to win a minor event by nearly four lengths.
In three of her four races she has been ridden by Thierry Jarnet, but was replaced at Longchamp last month by Frankie Dettori, who now operates as Sheikh Joaan’s retained rider. Dettori broke his ankle in a bad fall in England on Wednesday, leaving the way open for Jarnet to renew his relationship with Treve.
Dettori has ridden some of the best fillies to ever have graced the turf in his former capacity as retained rider to Godolphin, the international stables of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai, but even the Italian rider has been impressed by his limited association with Treve.
|Dettori celebrates winning on Treve following The Qatar Prix Vermeille at Longchamp racecourse [GETTY]|
“She showed an instantaneous and electric turn of foot first in the Diane and then in the Vermeille,” Dettori said. “It is very unusual for a middle-distance horse to have a turn of foot like that.
“She has quite a light-frame and has virtually no weight but that is why she can quicken like that.
“For a filly who has only run four times there has got to be room for improvement.
“The worry for her is it that there will be a lot of runners and there will be hustle and bustle in the race. She seems very professional, though, and I think she’ll handle it.”
On Friday Treve was drawn in stall 15 by Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli at the post position ceremony.
It means she will start the race from one of the widest positions of the cast of 17 runners that includes the English Classic-winning colts Ruler Of The World and Leading Light in addition to five horses from the stable of Andre Fabre, who is seeking an eighth win in the race.
Her task was made significantly easier on Saturday morning when Novellist, the brilliant King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner, did not travel from Germany due to a fever and will not run.
Qatar are set to sponsor the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe until 2022 but this will be the first time since they started sponsoring the race in 2008 that an owner from the country has had a realistic challenger.
Treve will be accompanied in the race by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa’s Very Nice Name. If Treve does prevail, the union between France and Qatar will tighten, and Treve’s journey from cast-off to the best horse in Europe will be complete.