John Gosden is wary of the challenge facing Enable

CHAMPION trainer John Gosden is respectful of Enable’s high-class opponents as she attempts to regain her crown in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes before heading to York for next month’s Ebor festival.

Enable made a winning comeback in this month's Coral-Eclipse under regular rider Frankie Dettori for trainer John Gosden.

The dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine proved she has lost none of her brilliance when making a successful start to her campaign in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago under regular rider Frankie Dettori.

Flat racing’s trailblazer with a public following that is growing with every appearance, she will bring the house down if she can extend her winning sequence to 11 by landing today’s eagerly-anticipated Ascot showpiece.

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The daughter of Nathaniel produced a devastating display in the 2017 King George and is favourite to become the third dual winner after Dahlia (1973 and 1974) and Swain (1997 and 1998).

Frankie Dettori celebrates Enable's win in the 2018 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

However, with Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck and Sir Michael Stoute’s proven top-class performer Crystal Ocean in the line-up, Gosden knows Prince Khalid Abdullah’s champion will have to be at her best.

“Enable won the King George as a three-year-old filly getting weight, just as Taghrooda (2014) did,” he said last night. “It is a little different when you’re older and suddenly you have a Derby winner coming at you – who’s getting the weight – and a magnificent older horse in Crystal Ocean, who ran a blinder last year and won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes well last month.

“This is no penalty kick, absolutely not. It is a really exciting race with a deep field. Obviously Enable and Crystal Ocean set the standard, and then you have the three-year-olds getting the allowances. I don’t think it is the formality that is indicated by the betting.”

Enable was unable to defend her title 12 months ago during a troubled summer, and Gosden feels it is testament to both her ability and attitude that she has overcome that adversity to cement her star status as she looks for an unprecedented third Arc later this year.

Frankie Dettori after last year's Arc win on Enable.

“She is a pleasure to be around and is a great filly,” he said.

“She has maintained her enthusiasm for racing and really enjoys her work – and as long as Frankie (Dettori) stops training her and I’m allowed to train her and he rides her, we might get there.”

Enable was making her belated return in the Coral-Eclipse, having missed the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot, and Gosden admits it has taken a while for his star filly to re-discover her mojo this season.

“She didn’t appreciate the cold east winds in the Spring, so we delayed her comeback,” he ventured.

“We talked about the Coronation (Cup) and Ascot, but I was keen to run from July onwards – because if you run early you have to have a mid-season break. I didn’t take her away for a racecourse gallop – she did all her work in Newmarket – and I would say it wasn’t until we got her on a gallop she likes, the round gallop on the Limekilns, that she showed her zest and old spark.

“Prior to then she was like the heavyweight boxer trying to get ready for a championship. They’ve been in the gym and running the roads – it is tough mentally to get yourself back to that.

“I think she had done what a lot of heavyweights had done – just quietly go through the motions. The last two weeks before Sandown, you saw all her passion coming out for racing and training.”

Considering plans for his stable star beyond Saturday, Gosden added: “She will either go for the Yorkshire Oaks or Juddmonte International. I like to run in a race and wait 10 days afterwards to start thinking about what we will do.”

As for the aforementioned Dettori whose career has been rekindled by his big race association with Gosden, even he is feeling the weight of public expectation.

“I am feeling good and excited for the King George, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling nervous,” he disclosed. “I ride one of the best and most loved horses in the world in Enable. As I expected, everyone has turned up for the race – and in these big races you never get a freebie.

“I just hope that she will show her stuff. I rode her on Wednesday and she was in good form. Obviously, Crystal Ocean is an improving horse, and I won the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes with him. We have the Derby winner too, so it’s not going to be a walkover.”