John Gosden believes equine superstar Enable is “older and wiser” as she attempts to make history in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – European racing’s showpiece race – at ParisLongchamp this weekend.
Victory for Frankie Dettori’s mount would see the five-year-old, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, become the first horse in history to win three successive renewals of the showpiece race.
After overcoming a troubled campaign a year ago to become the eighth dual winner of Europe’s premier middle-distance contest, Enable has enjoyed a faultless flawless campaign in 2019.
She has stretched her tally of top-level wins to 10 with hat-trick of Group Ones successes in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, the King George at Ascot and, most recently, the Yorkshire Oaks at York in one of the finest performances witnessed on the Knavesmire.
Running in the same colours as the legendary Frankel who went unbeaten in his 14-race career under the guidance of the late Sir Henry Cecil, Enable has suffered one defeat in her 14 starts to date – a race at Newbury in April 2017 when she was third.
However victory on Sunday would see Enable, a mare who has breathed new life into the autumn of 48-year-old Dettori’s career, would see Flat racing’s most popular horse record a 14th win before being retired to begin a career as a broodmare.
And the ever-patient Gosden offered this positive update after 16 horses were declared for the Arc.
“She’s got a great stride on her and a great head and a wonderful outlook.
She’s always got her ears pricked and she’s very enthusiastic about everything,” he reported.
“When she was younger, she would run with unhindered exuberance and was often winning her races well.
Now she’s got a little older and wiser, she’s rather like a boxer who knows how to win on points – rather than going straight in for the immediate knockout. I think that’s maturity that comes.
“She’s filled her frame and there’s no doubt in my mind that a Flat thoroughbred horse is probably at their absolute peak at five.
“She’s fully grown now and fully developed.
“We’ll see how we go – there’s some mighty opposition coming at us, there’s no doubt about that.”
Gosden has one other remaining contender in the talented three-year-old filly Mehdaayih, while the only other British-trained horse to stand their ground is Charlie Appleby’s Ghaiyyath who so impressive on his latest appearance in Germany.
Aidan O’Brien has whittled his potential team down to three.
The Ballydoyle handler is set to saddle Japan, winner of York’s Juddmonte International, as well as Irish Champion Stakes heroine Magical, a long-standing rival to Enable, and Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck.
Of this trio, Japan is the most intriguing contender and will be in receipt of weight from Enable – the question is whether the form of the York race flattered the colt or not.
Andre Fabre has Waldgeist and Musis Amica in contention as he bids to add to his record tally of seven Arc wins.
The leading hope for the home contingent is Jean-Claude Rouget’s French Derby winner Sottsass who overcame a troubled passage to win the Prix Niel over the Arc course and distance on his return from a three-month absence.
Defending champion Laurens is one of 11 fillies in contention for the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Leyburn trainer Karl Burke’s stable star claimed the fifth of her six Group One victories to date in this event 12 months ago.
She added to her top-level tally in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville during the summer under North Yorkshire-based rider PJ McDonald, since when she has been narrowly beaten in the City of York Stakes before finishing fourth when defending her crown in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
Summer Sands is all set to head for the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy at the track on Saturday after his gallant effort in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.
The Richard Fahey-trained colt was sent off the complete outsider at 100-1 for the much-anticipated Group One for juveniles but totally outran his odds to be beaten only two lengths in third place behind Earthlight.
“It was a great run. We’re proud of him,” said the Malton trainer. “He’ll run at Redcar definitely.”