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Ace Impact retained his perfect record by showing a sparkling turn of foot to land the 2023 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
Just three years on from Sottsass' brilliant performance in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, trainer Jean-Claude Rouget was once again enjoying a perfect day in the sun at Longchamp as Ace Impact proved he was the real deal.
The son of Cracksman arrived with an unblemished record of four from four in his career thus far and was sent off the 5/2 favourite to keep it intact. Success in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly would have tempted connections for a tilt at the Irish Champion Stakes but they politely declined in favour of a preparation race in the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville in August. It was a prep race that he passed with flying colours, and it seemed only the step up to a mile and a half would stand in his way of Arc glory.
That step up in trip proved no bother, however, as Ace Impact produced a sensational turn of foot after taking up his customary position towards the rear of the field.
The pace looked a reasonable one with Simca Mille doing well to get across from being drawn widest of all and Mr Hollywood also helping press the early proceedings. Jim Crowley and Hukum were also keen to work their way into a prominent position from stall fourteen with the pair ensuring the tempo was solid throughout. Hukum and Westover looked set to renew their King George rivalry with a furlong to travel, but the eye was soon drawn to Ace Impact, who cruised into contention with a breathtaking turn of foot towards the middle of the track. Demuro and Ace Impact struck the front with half a furlong to travel and proved any stamina doubts to be a distant memory, by striding clear for an emphatic success. Westover (11/2) battled on well to fill the runner-up spot with Onesto, who was situated towards the back of the field, running on strongly to grab third place over the Japanese mare Through Seven Seas (13/2).
Paddy Power cut the sensational unbeaten winner to 3/1 from 5/1 for the QIPCO British Champions Stakes and also halved the runner-up Westover, to 4/1 for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Rouget said: "I won with Sottsass three years ago, it was incredible because I started in Pau a long time ago. It's a long way (journey of training career) and two Arcs in four years is fantastic."
"I am like a very backward horse, and I am just maturing now," he joked. "So, I hope I have a few good years again in front of me.
"I know how I started with jumpers and very bad Flat horses. With Millkom it was the first sign of a Classic career in 1994 and after we won with Le Havre and Stacelita and now we have a very strong stable.
"Thank you to all of my team. I have two teams now, one in Pau and one in Deauville. There is a lot of work always in a serious, serious way.
"We always say they are the best when they win, I think it is his strong acceleration. It is something I have never seen.
"I don't know if he will go straight to the stud or run next year. It will be decided between the two owners and me, but I don't know yet."
He added: "I actually more or less expected to see that performance and that turn of foot and acceleration."
"In Chantilly [Prix du Jockey Club], he didn't have the opening and was blocked in so had to come very late. He literally flew to the winning post. He wasn't ready for the next race at Deauville, but I thought he'd be able to deploy that turn of foot here at Longchamp.
"You can see that today the races have produced the right results with the ground that we've had."
Winning rider, Cristian Demuro added: "I knew when we came into the straight, I could get close to the pace. I knew that when I pushed the button, he was going to accelerate."
Not only did Demuro salute the crowd crossing the winning line, but he also produced something Frankie Dettori would have been proud of when jumping off Ace Impact to resemble something of a flying dismount.
He commented: "I knew it was the last year for Frankie. So, I did it for him."