Owner Breeder photographer George Selwyn made his first visit to Longchamp for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1979.
Forty years later, with Enable bidding for an unprecedented hat-trick in the Paris showpiece, he picks out his most memorable winner from each decade.
So, here are George Selwyn’s famous five…
Three Troikas, 1979 – ‘The first one’
A trip to Paris in the autumn of 1979 was undoubtedly an appealing prospect for George Selwyn following the ‘Winter of Discontent’ back home in Britain.
Three-year-old filly Three Troikas was the winner that year, a triumph for one of France’s most famous racing families, with the daughter of Lyphard owned by Ghislaine and Alec Head, trained by Criquette Head – the first, and still the only, woman to send out the winner of the race – and ridden by Freddy Head.
The daughter of Lyphard travelled beautifully into the straight and sprinted clear in the final furlong to record a comfortable victory over Le Marmot.
Troy, that year’s Derby winner and favourite, was positioned further back than ideal and could only muster the one pace to grab third under Willie Carson.
Dancing Brave, 1986 – ‘The best winner, beating the best’
Before Enable, before Frankel, there was Dancing Brave, the best horse to carry Khalid Abdullah’s famous silks in the 1980s.
Brilliant winner of the 2,000 Guineas, Coral-Eclipse and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1986, the only blip came in the Derby, when Greville Starkey gave the colt “oh so much to do”, as Graham Goode’s famous commentary stated, and he was beaten by Shahrastani.
Pat Eddery was in the saddle at Longchamp and this time there was no hard luck story. The duo stormed home down the outside of the field to record a brilliant victory against top-class rivals including Bering, Triptych, Shahrastani, Shardari, Darara and Acatenango.
Peintre Celebre, 1997 – ‘He broke the course record’
Daniel Wildenstein’s dark blue silks were associated with some outstanding performers over the years and Peintre Celebre was one of the very best to race for the renowned art dealer.
The 1997 renewal was a top-class affair that featured the likes of Pilsudski, Borgia, Oscar Schindler, Swain and Helissio, winner of the 1996 Arc, who led for most of the journey, with Peintre Celebre trapped on the rail in midfield.
However, once the field turned into the straight, Olivier Peslier found the gaps opening and when Peintre Celebre hit the front, he changed his legs and powered away for a superb five-length victory.
Sea The Stars, 2009 – ‘An exceptional racehorse’
The Tsui family’s Sea The Stars, trained by John Oxx, was certainly bred to win an Arc. His dam, Urban Sea, caused a huge upset when triumphing at Longchamp in 1993, while his half-brother was the mighty Galileo, winner of the Derby and now the world’s pre-eminent sire.
After finishing fourth on his debut at two, Sea The Stars proved unbeatable thereafter, completing an eight-race sequence that yielded six consecutive Group 1s during his three-year-old campaign.
The son of Cape Cross was, unsurprisingly, an odds-on favourite in the Arc. A little keen in the early stages, he was settled back in midfield on the rail by Mick Kinane, as Coolmore duo Set Sail and Grand Ducal set frenetic fractions up front.
Many an Arc runner has had their bid for glory snuffed out after encountering traffic problems by sticking to the rail, yet Sea The Stars was no ordinary thoroughbred.
Kinane asked his mount to quicken through the gaps, which he did effortlessly, hitting the front a furlong out and galloping on strongly to secure a two-length victory over the fast-finishing Youmzain.
Enable, 2018 – ‘On the verge of history’
The recent trend for female winners of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a list that features Zarkava (2008), Danedream (2011), Solemia (2012), Treve (2013 & 2014) and Found (2016), has continued with Enable, victorious for the past two years and now seeking a historic third success.
Enable’s first Arc victory, at the end of her three-year-old season, was decisive at Chantilly; her second, at Longchamp after a troubled preparation, was anything but easy, just lasting home as the ill-fated Sea Of Class and James Doyle rattled home after a troubled passage.
Khalid Abdullah’s homebred daughter of Nathaniel now has the chance to make history for the premier partnership of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. She won’t lack for support and has the right man in the saddle to see off 11 rivals in Sunday’s renewal.