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Solemia dashes Japanese hopes in thrilling Arc finish

By Alysen Miller, CNN
updated 6:23 AM EDT, Mon October 8, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Outsider Solemia wins Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp
  • Runs down Japanese favorite Orfevre in final strides
  • Epsom Derby winner Camelot finishes seventh
  • Last year's winner Danedream unable to defend the crown

(CNN) -- Japanese raider Orfevre failed in his bid to become the first non-European trained winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe when he was denied by home-grown outsider Solemia at Longchamp Sunday.

After a huge last-to-first move, Orfevre was dramatically run down in the final strides by Solemia to give jockey Olivier Peslier his fourth win in the race, breaking thousands of Japanese hearts in the process.

Orfevre, already a Triple Crown winner in his home country, looked to be pulling clear of the field as they entered the home straight.

But four-year-old filly Solemia responded to her jockey to run down Orfevre, ridden by four-time champion jockey Christophe Soumillon, winning by a head.

Japan's hopes pinned on Orfevre
French hopes rest on Shareta

Although not considered among the favorites heading in to the Longchamp showpiece, Solemia's victory maintains the successful recent record of fillies in this race.

Last year's winner, Danedream, was also a filly.

Thousands of Japanese fans and more than 100 accredited journalists from the country had descended on Paris to witness arguably their best chance at capturing the Arc since Deep Impact in 2006.

Racing-mad Japan has long had designs on Europe's most prestigious race, having sent their first runner to Longchamp in 1969.

Japanese Horse of the Year Orfevre was widely considered among the favorites for this year's edition, despite being drawn in the unfavorable stall 18 -- the widest possible berth.

Widely considered Europe's most prestigious all-age race, this year's running was notable for its high-profile absentees.

First Ed Dunlop's tough filly Snow Fairy, third in this race in 2011, was ruled out after suffering a slight injury in training.

Then defending champion Danedream was sensationally scratched after an outbreak of swamp fever at her training center in Germany.

Although Danedream herself is completely healthy, German veterinary authorities immediately slapped a travel ban on all horses entering or leaving the facility, meaning she was unable to make the trip to Paris.

With Frankel, rated the best horse in the world, also opting to sit this one out, it appeared to leave the field wide open for Orfevre, who had previously demonstrated form over the mile-and-a-half distance, as well as a devastating turn of foot.

Outside of the duel for first place, Masterstroke, ridden by French jockey Mikael Barzalona, finished third.

The Aiden O'Brien-trained Camelot, ridden by Godolphin jockey Frankie Dettori, never factored and finished down the field in seventh place.

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