Race favourite Enable, the 2017 and 2018 winner, was a length clear entering the closing stages but the John Gosden-trained star was caught on the line by Waldgeist, ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot, to give French trainer Andre Fabre a record eighth Arc win.
A dual winner on soft ground coming into the race, Waldgeist’s stamina proved the better as he stayed on dourly to win a length and three-quarters.
Sottsass, ridden by Cristian Demuro for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and the Aidan O’Brien Japan under Ryan Moore battled it out for third, with the former edging it by half a length, ahead of the O’Brien trained Magical, ridden by Donnacha O’Brien, who kept on to take fifth.
It is just a second defeat for Enable, who was the strong favourite going into the Arc off the back of impressive wins in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Yorkshire Oaks at York.
She was roared on in the closing stages by the French crowd but simply could not keep up with Waldgeist’s fast finish on the testing ground conditions.
Fellow five-year-old Waldgeist was beaten on each of the three previous occasions the two horses had met and finished fourth in last year’s race. But there was no denying Fabre’s stayer on this occasion who came with a late run and deservedly took the honours.
Having been held up in the early stages, Waldgeist, who relished the testing going, looked out of contention and well beaten with a furlong to go just as Enable hit the front under a confident Frankie Dettori. But Boudot angled Waldgeist wide and that seemed to do the trick as the pair picked up in fine style to scupper the history-making bid of Gosden’s mare.
As well as being a record eighth Arc success for Fabre, the victory had special significance for Frenchman Boudot who was not only winning in his homeland but also securing a first win in the race.
Speaking afterwards, Fabre said, “I’m very proud Waldgeist managed to beat such a fantastic mare, I am delighted.”
Enable’s trainer John Gosden said the five-year-old’s owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah, will make the decision whether to retire the mare after the defeat.
“She ran a brilliant race. Frankie went for it but in the last part, with the ground testing her it is hard to show that explosive turn of foot.
“When the rain came that is not entirely her scene. She handles soft [ground] but doesn’t have the same explosive turn of foot on it.
“In the end she was outstayed in very testing conditions.”