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Race of the Week - 1999 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

This YouTube stuff is fantastic, where else can you find video replays from some of the best horse races in the world during the last ten to twenty years?

Below is the race video from the 1999 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp just outside of Paris. The Arc is generally considered one of the greatest races in the world along with the Kentucky Derby, the English Derby, the Dubai World Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic. This one and a half mile test often produces the European Horse of the Year, as well as a host of contenders for the Breeders' Cup Turf in the United States several weeks later (although no winner of the Arc has ever come back to win the BC Turf).

Turf racing tends to be about pace, position, going, and finishing kick. In Europe the pace is generally one of two things: slow or slower. With the horses bunched together most of the way around the course it becomes imperative for the jockey to angle his mount into the clear in order to summon a strong closing kick that will push him to the front.

The going, or course condition, can be an immensely important factor in European races due to the fact that, unlike here in America, races are never "taken off the turf" due to rain or moisture. A large majority of American races are run over turf courses rated as Firm or Good. In Europe that is simply not the case, with a great many top stakes races run over ground labeled Yielding, Soft, or even Heavy.

The 1999 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was run over "Soft" ground, generally a condition that makes it more advantageous to be near the front of the pack. Japanese challenger El Condor Pasa found himself on the lead and clear of the field for the majority of the race, with favorite Montjieu mid pack along the rail. Montjieu was able to find room and run down the leader in the stretch in a classic renewal of this prestigious race.