Frankie Dettori ready for stamina test in historic Arc bid on Enable
She will bid tomorrow to become the first three-time winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after winning Europe’s flagship race in 2017 and 2018. It will also be her racing swansong.
Coincidentally, Dettori’s eldest son, Leo, turns 21 on the same day – even more motivation for the legendary veteran jockey to atone for last year’s Arc heartbreak when Enable had the race at her mercy before Waldgeist overhauled her deep inside the final furlong.
Yet it is this deflating experience that is helping Dettori, 49, stay calm after owner Prince Khalid Abdullah decided to keep Enable, Flat racing’s talismanic horse, in training with John Gosden.
That decision was more than vindicated when she won this summer’s King George at Ascot before sauntering home in a low-key prep race at Kempton last month.
“We have already achieved something historic by winning the King George for a third time,” said Dettori, reflecting on the six-year-old Enable’s successful 2020 campaign to date.
“Frankly, the pressure involved is less than last year, and it’s not because there will be fewer people in Paris (during Covid-19 crowd restrictions).
“It’s because we have already experienced disappointment. The three hours which followed last year’s defeat were the worst in my entire professional career, and I think that Enable was similarly downcast.”
As for the task ahead this time, Dettori is mindful again of the challenge of anticipated soft ground – and respectful of the opposition.
“Rain is forecast, and the ground will most likely be heavy (but) I hope that we won’t experience extremes of going, as happened last year,” he said.
“There are two horses that like to go to the front – Serpentine and Sovereign. So taking up a good position will be de rigueur. The ground is a very important factor, and Enable has already shown that she can handle it. It’s a big plus.
Dettori is also respectful of Enable’s stablemate Stradivarius. He has enjoyed a dominant partnership with the champion stayer who will relish conditions under Olivier Peslier.
“Genuine heavy ground will turn the Arc into a stamina test – that will play to Stradivarius’s strengths – and, on the contrary, the distance may prove a bit long for Persian King, although anything trained by Andre Fabre warrants respect,” he added.
“There are other horses which shouldn’t be under-estimated (too), such as Sottsass. He hasn’t had a hard campaign and boasts prior experience in the Arc de Triomphe (in third last year).”
Top sprinter Battaash – victorious this year at Royal Ascot, Goodwood and York – has been withdrawn by trainer Charlie Hills from the Prix de l’Abbaye due to the ground as Glass Slippers bids to win a second successive renewal of this Group One for Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan and jockey Tom Eaves.
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