Like Devon Loch, Youmzain is a racehorse rather than a human being, so the ‘nearly man’ tag should really apply to his trainer, Mick Channon, who saddled him to finish second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp three years running, in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The son of Sinndar – who, coincidentally, won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2000 – was retired from racing, as a seven-year-old, in 2010, having won six of his 32 races and just shy of £3.4 million in total in prize money.
Youmzain won twice at the highest, Group 1 level, capturing the Preis von Europa at Cologne, Germany in September, 2006 and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at Saint-Cloud, France in June, 2008. However, it was in the ‘Arc’ – the most prestigious, and valuable, race run in Europe – that he went closest to gaining a slice of racing immortality.
Indeed, it was on his first attempt, as a four-year-old, in 2007 that he went closest of all. He arrived at Longchamp on the back of five straight defeats in Group 1 company, including by the reopposing Dylan Thomas on his penultimate start at Ascot, and was consequently sent off a largely unconsidered 66/1 chance. Nevertheless, he finished strongly, from off the pace, to hold every chance in the closing stages and eventually went down by just a head to his old rival.
In 2008, Youmzain once again finished well to get within two lengths of the unbeaten favourite Zarkava and it was a similar story in 2009, when he was beaten a similar margin by another outstanding winner, Sea The Stars. Reflecting on a trio of near-misses, Channon said, ‘He [Youmzain] always came there with a chance, but just had that knack of getting beat in the very best races. If he got to the front he would stop. It was difficult to know quite what to do.’