SUPERSTAR mare Enable stands on the brink of racing history as she prepares to line up in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
Victory on the Knavesmire will see Frankie Dettori’s mount become just the second British horse – after Frankel – to win 10 Group One races.
Like Frankel, the brilliant Enable runs in the iconic green, pink and white colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah.
And though the John Gosden-trained Enable has been imperious for three seasons, this is, potentially, the five-year-old’s trickiest test.
Not only does the small field – just four runners have been declared – increase the likelihood of a muddling race, akin to the 2009 Juddmonte International when Sea The Stars prevailed, but team tactics.
It sees Enable and stablemate Lah Ti Dar, owned and bred by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife Madeleine, face the Aidan O’Brien pair of Magicaal and South Sea Pearl.
We’ll play it by ear as you can’t have big plans for a race like that, I’ll leave it to the jockey, he knows the filly and knows the track well. If there were eight runners it would be more straightforward, but it could be trappy – if it is, that’s life.Trainer John Gosden
And it means Enable – the best mare in the world on official ratings – coming up against Magical, the number one filly, in the most anticipated race of the Ebor festival.
This explains why Gosden was refusing to take victory for granted – especially after Crystal Ocean, the horse Enable beat in last month’s King George at Ascot, was defeated by O’Brien’s Japan in the Juddmonte.
“I remember seeing Roberto beat Brigadier Gerard here in 1972,” said the trainer who reiterated that the priority for Enable is an unprecedented third successive win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in early October.
“It’s a little bit of a trappy race, you’ve got to work out who makes the running. Four-horse races can be messy and there’s one in there (South Sea Pearl) who shouldn’t be in there, but she is.
“Other than that they are three very good fillies, and Lah Ti Dar is in good form. We’ll play it by ear as you can’t have big plans for a race like that, I’ll leave it to the jockey, he knows the filly and knows the track well.
“If there were eight runners it would be more straightforward, but it could be trappy – if it is, that’s life. The big target always remains the Arc.
“I’ve no real concerns about her coming back from the King George, she’s been in good form at home, Frankie only gave her one flick there, he was waving it (the whip) thereafter.”
Meanwhile, John Quinn’s sprinter Liberty Beach will be favourite to land the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes on Ladies Day.
The Yorkshire filly has won four of her five competitive starts to date, her only defeat coming when fourth behind the top-class Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
She will test her powers over six furlongs for the first time on the Knavesmire, and Malton-based Quinn admits only time will tell whether Jason Hart’s mount will prove as effective over the longer distance.
He said: “Everything has been fine with her since Goodwood and I’ve been very happy with her, so it’s fingers crossed.
“Obviously I hope she gets the extra furlong, that’s why we’re running, and she’s never been stopping at the end of her races.”