Dubai: An extraordinary mare can secure her place among the legends of the turf but she will need to be at her imperious best at France’s hallowed Longchamp racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Enable, who has won 13 of her 14 career starts, gets her chance to become the first horse in the 99-year history of the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to win the European showpiece three times.
It all began in May 2017, when the Juddmonte Farms-bred daughter of Nathaniel provided an insight into what the future holds for her, when posting a clinical victory in the Listed Cheshire Oaks in the UK.
Since then, she has not put a foot wrong, winning races at the highest level including Epsom Oaks, Irish Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks (twice), the King George at Ascot (twice), the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.
Trained by the master himself, John Gosden, and ridden on 12 occasions by Frankie Dettori, Enable understandably goes into the Arc as the red-hot favourite to become Britain’s 16th winner of the race.
“This, in racing terms, would be as big as Sir Steve Redgrave claiming five Olympic gold medals,” said Dettori, already a six-time Arc-winning rider.
“It’s been a circus, but quite rightly so, because she is trying to do what has never been done before and scale a mountain that has not been scaled before.
“There has been a media frenzy all over the world, because it is the biggest race. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous — of course I’m nervous.”
The Dubai Challenge
William Buick, who knows a thing or two about Enable, having been on board when she suffered her only loss at Newbury in April 2017, teams up with Godolphin’s exciting Ghaiyyath, a 14-length winner of the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden in Germany last month.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, the four-year-old Dubawi colt became the highest-rated four-year-old in the world as a result of that performance, and comes into the French showpiece as a big outside chance.
An Arc victory is long overdue for the Boys in Blue having last found success with Marienbard (2002) and Sakhee (2001). Ghaiyyath fits the Arc profile with Marienbard one of three Grosser Preis von Baden winners to have gone on to win the French contest.
Appleby said: “Ghaiyyath goes into this race in great order and on the back of a very impressive win in Germany. He is very versatile in terms of ground and soft conditions are not going to worry us.
“He is a horse who we have always held in high regard and has won five of his seven starts, so he takes a nice profile into the race.
“It’s exciting to have my first runner in the Arc. We would be delighted if Ghaiyyath could win but we know that we are chasing the tail of Enable. Being placed behind her wouldn’t do Ghaiyyath’s CV any harm as he is hopefully going to be a nice horse to have around next year.”
The Home advantage
French-trained and French-foaled horses have a distinct advantage in the race producing 66 and 46 winners respectively.
Four local challengers will bid to add to that enviable record with the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Sottsass appearing to have the best chance.
Rouget has never won the Arc but believes that he has a big chance of ending the wait with French Derby-winner Sottsass.
“He is a colt who seems exceptional — it’s up to him to prove it to us on Sunday,” said the Frenchman. “You know, as I often say, everything is written — and if we have to win, we will win.”
The Group 1 Prix Neil has yielded 10 Arc winners including greats such as Carnegie (1994), Helissio (1996), Montjeu (1999) and this will come as sweet music to Rouget’s ears with Sottsass having won the race that is run over the same course and distance as the historic race.