JOHN GOSDEN blamed heavy ground for equine superstar Enable’s heartbreaking defeat in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after she came within strides of making racing history.
Frankie Dettori’s horse of a lifetime was on the verge of becoming the first ever horse to win three successive Arcs before being worn down by French crowd favourite Waldgeist deep inside the final furlong.
Yet, while connections have yet to confirm whether Enable will be retired to stud or prolong a remarkable career, the five-year-old lost little in defeat as she sought a 14th career win.
Forced wide in the early stages, Enable – winner of the Yorkshire Oaks in August – hit the front in the home straight and appeared to have thoroughbred history within her grasp.
However attritional ground at ParisLongchamp meant her final burst was not decisive – Enable struggled to burn off her rivals on the rain-softened turf – and Waldgeist reeled in the leader for veteran trainer Andre Fabre and jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot.
The biggest – and most difficult – Flat race in Europe to win, this was a record eighth win for Fabre and a first French-trained victory in the race since Treve’s second Arc win 2014.
Gosden was full of praise for both the winning connections, and his own vanquished heroine. “She ran an absolutely brilliant race,” said the champion trainer. “Waldgeist came late and strong - it was a good pace up there.
“Frankie committed, and went for it, and just the last part, in the ground testing her, it’s hard to show that explosive turn of foot - and Waldgeist has outstayed her on the ground. Full marks to Andre.”
Gosden’s sporting reaction was shared by an equally philosophical Teddy Grimthorpe who is racing manager to Enable’s owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.
“She’s ran a super race. She’s just got outstayed on the staying ground at the end. How can we complain?” said Lord Grimthorpe who is also chairman of York Racecourse.
“It’s not what we all wanted, and the wave of goodwill we received before the race was overwhelming, but we have to accept these things in racing. We don’t love her (Enable) any less.”
As for the horse’s future – Enable followed up her second Arc last year by winning at the Breeders’ Cup in America – he added no decision would be made “in a hurry”.
The fast-finishing Waldgeist, fourth in last year’s renewal, had been beaten by Enable on each of the three previous occasions they had met.
“I’m very proud that Waldgeist managed to beat such a fantastic mare – I’m delighted,” said the aforementioned Fabre as he accepted the gracious congratulations of the Enable entourage.
North Yorkshire trainer David O’Meara registered his 1,000th success when Betsey Trotter won at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening.
O’Meara, a former National Hunt jockey principally for Tim Easterby, first took out a licence to train in 2010 and made rapid progress.
He notched 100 winners for the first time in the 2013 season and won this year’s Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot when Lord Glitters prevailed under Danny Tudhope.
There was a shock result in the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye sprint when Glass Slippers was a runaway winner for Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan and jockey Tom Eaves, with hot favourite Battaash never featuring.