FLAT racing heroine Enable is on track to reappear at York this summer, it has been confirmed.
Though a successful defence of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the superstar filly’s top priority this is quickly followed by the Juddmonte International.
And while it remains to be seen whether Australia’s record-breaking Winx will head to Britain this summer, Enable’s connections are relishing this year’s tests.
Trained by John Gosden and ridden with ebullience by Frankie Dettori, Enable completed the English-Irish Oaks double last year before going on to beat her elders in the King George, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Connections have sportingly kept her in training for another year and she is set to return either at the Curragh on May 27 or at Epsom five days later after virtually ruling out a trip to Paris next month for the Prix Ganay, which will mark the official reopening of the Longchamp track following a major redevelopment.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah who won the 2012 Juddmonte with Frankel, said: “Enable is in very good form. She got put back a little bit by the cold weather in Newmarket; like most fillies she would prefer it warmer than colder. She is coming on well and is happy and cantering.
“She has not been asked to do anything spectacular yet, but everyone seems pleased with her. I think it is likely the Prix Ganay will come too soon for her with the way she is. It is not entirely ruled out, but I would suspect it has come a bit too soon. That leads us on to either the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the end of May or the Coronation Cup.”
Grimthorpe confirmed an Arc defence was top of Enable’s agenda – but connections are also keen to aim for the Juddmonte International at York in August.
“Really and truly the main aim is the Arc, probably preceded by the Juddmonte and the King George,” continued Grimthorpe who, coincidentally, is the chairman of York Racecourse.
“Prince Khalid likes to try and win his races if he can, as any sponsor does, and the Juddmonte is a very important race to us in every way.
“I don’t see why that won’t be on the agenda, but the defence of the King George is also important and at the top of the tree is the Arc.”
Grimthorpe believes there is every chance Enable will clash this season with esteemed stablemate Cracksman who won the Epsom Derby in 2016.
He added: “I don’t think Anthony Oppenheimer (Cracksman’s owner) would have any qualms taking us on and we certainly wouldn’t have any taking on him.
“I think it is important for the top horses to be taking each other on for the top prizes. It is exciting for racing fans and it gives a lot to the season. You have two top-class horses returning and at that level. I certainly think it will be fascinating.”
Three-time Cheltenham Festival winner Tiger Roll will spearhead Gordon Elliott’s team in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
With stamina no issue having landed the four-mile National Hunt Chase last season, the 2014 Triumph Hurdle winner showed he has the aptitude for something different when successful in this season’s Glenfarclas Chase on the Cheltenham cross-country track.
“He’s had a great preparation. That cross-country race has been a lucky stepping stone over the years,” said Elliott.
The trainer’s Cause Of Causes won the Glenfarclas Chase last year and beat all bar One for Arthur at Aintree. He was pulled up at Cheltenham this year, though, and his participation is not yet certain.
A third possible is Ucello Conti. The 10-year-old was sixth two years ago, but came down at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit when still going well last year.
Elliott said: “He was travelling very well last year when he came down. If there’s a horse in our yard who deserves to win a big one it’s him – he’s been placed in all the big handicaps.”