TEDDY GRIMTHORPE has witnessed many memorable moments of Turf history as the longstanding racing manager to the supreme owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah.
Yet an unprecedented third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe win for Enable will come close to equalling the feats of the owner’s equine icons like Frankel.
The chairman of York Racecourse, Lord Grimthorpe has been the Saudi prince’s right-hand racing man for 21 years after a successful career as a leading bloodstock agent and has already been involved in four Arc victories – Rail Link (2006), Workforce (2010) and Enable’s back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018.
But this reserved Yorkshireman is aware of the sense of anticipation ahead of tomorrow’s historic contest at ParisLongchamp in the French capital.
Not only would victory for Enable, already the winner of 10 Group One races, cap the careers of her irrepressible jockey Frankie Dettori and trainer John Gosden – the sport’s ultimate professional – but it would represent a record seventh Arc win for the horse’s owner and move him one clear of the late Marcel Boussac.
“These great days are what everyone comes into the game for, not just Prince Khalid,” Grimthorpe told The Yorkshire Post. “You come in it for these moments and it is exciting. I always say ‘if you don’t get nervous, you don’t care’. It is part of the anticipation.
“It is quite extraordinary – I feel very lucky and privileged to be a small part of it.”
Grimthorpe, from Westow, thought he had seen it all in racing when the freakish Frankel – trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil – won all 14 races in an unprecedented turf career which culminated with magnificent victories at York and Ascot in 2012.
However a third Arc would also represent a 14th success for the globetrotting Enable – though the filly does have one small blemish on an otherwise impeccable CV after being beaten at Newbury in the early part of her career.
And Grimthorpe is clearly enjoying his association with the superstar horse, watching the mare in her work on the Newmarket gallops before reporting back to Abdullah and the whole team at the Juddmonte Farms breeding operation.
“With Enable, it is a tremendous combination of athletic ability, a tremendous mind, a will to win and a will to compete. It really is her hallmark.. She is a fighter as well as having the class. From that point of view, she’s pretty much the complete racehorse.”
The same can also be said of Cambridge University-educated Gosden whose association with the aforementioned Abdullah goes back to the 1980s when he was training in California after learning his trade with legends like Vincent O’Brien and Sir Noel Murless.
“John is Prince Khalid’s longest standing trainer from his time in the United States,” explained Grimthorpe, one of the great gentlemen of racing. “He’s got a number of qualities.
“He’s highly intelligent. Like all top trainers, he leaves no stone unturned. He is meticulous with his planning and definite with his instructions – everyone at his Clarehaven stables in Newmarket knows where they stand. He also has a fantastic team which no trainer can go without. From that point of view, his horse sense – and competitiveness – are also vital parts of the make-up.”
And then there is Dettori who, at the age of 48, is now in the form of his life after recording 16 Group One winners this year as his decision to focus on the major meetings pays off.
Dettori’s relationship with Enable has been integral to this success story – even though the charismatic Italian admits to big-race nerves because of the weight of public expectation.
“Whatever happens on Sunday, his combination with Enable has been one of the great racing partnerships. There is this telepathy, mental and physical, which is so important. They both know what each other is capable of,” said Grimthorpe.
“If anything, what has been overlooked with Frankie is his great tactical knowledge and race riding nous. You look at some of the races and he makes it look straightforward and, in some cases, it has been like the Yorkshire Oaks this summer.
“The King George battle with Crystal Ocean. Far from it. And Enable’s first Arc. His moves in the early part of the race, getting her in the right position, point to his class. But you can’t do a lot of those things if you haven’t a great horse under you. As to Frankie, he’s got to the stage where he knows what he wants to do – and how he wants to do it. To put it into action, it gives him longevity in the saddle, and time to reflect, at the right moments. He clearly puts a lot of work behind the scenes into his race planning and fitness.”
This ethic could not be more different to Dettori’s public persona and flying dismounts. Here is a very serious jockey who, in the autumn of his career, has has been touched by the horse of his life. And it is the same at Juddmonte where Enable will stand as a broodmare – assuming this race is the last of her career. “She is a fourth generation Juddmonte-bred,” added Grimthorpe. “The involvement of everyone in the stud farm, and who have raised generations of great horses, is an important part of the story. No wonder what happens, Enable has stamped herself in thoroughbred lore.”