Andy Stephens evaluates Enable's achievements so far after her devastating victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York on Thursday and looks ahead to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the possibility of the daughter of Nathaniel racing on next year. Watch also the Racing UK team's analysis of Enable's fourth Group One success.
By Andy Stephens at York
Minutes after Enable had powered to a fourth runaway win in Group One company at York on Thursday, John Gosden was informed that the brilliant filly was a shade of odds-on with several bookmakers for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
“That’s a bit silly,” the trainer said.
After another peerless exhibition of galloping, however, it seems only misfortune will now prevent her from winning the showpiece at Chantilly on October 1 and, in the process, provide Frankie Dettori with a record fifth triumph in the showpiece.
Enable has developed into a tremendous physical specimen and radiated good health before the £300,000 contest. There was a small patch of sweat below her saddlecloth but Gosden observed afterwards that it was nothing to be anxious about as her sire, Nathaniel, had been a free sweater.
“That is her, she wants to get on with things but she is very business like,” Gosden said. “She’s the best mile and a half filly I’ve trained and Golden Horn would be the best mile and a half colt.”
He skilfully deflected a question about which was superior. “She could look him in the eye – I don’t know who would win,” he said.
We already knew that her ability to sustain a searing gallop for 12 furlongs was not in doubt - she had exhibited that by winning the Oaks, Irish Oaks and King George by an aggregate of 15 lengths - and in many ways her latest five-length romp on the Knavesmire, at odds of 1-4, was something of a lap of honour.
Perhaps it could and should have been an even wider margin. She looked like a cat growing weary of playing with a mouse in the closing stages, and Gosden acknowledged as much, suggesting she had got lonely and bored in the last couple of furlongs.
The closest runner-up Coronet, the Ribblesdale winner, got to her was in the pre-parade ring (Enable followed her every move) and the third, Queen’s Trust, a Breeders’ Cup heroine, paid for trying to keep tabs on her.
Nezwaah, another Group One winner, was unable to land a blow after being held up and Ryan Moore returned with a forlorn expression on his face after failing to figure on Alluringly. Michael Holding, the great West Indies fast bowler, said “it looks like someone has killed his favourite cat.”
Strictly, in terms of bare form, Enable had achieved more when trouncing Thursday's Juddmonte International winner Ulysses on her previous start last month at Ascot but what we learnt is that she is evidently tactically versatile as, on this occasion, she was happy to take her rivals out of their comfort zones from the front.
It is another big tick in her box because Arcs can be won and lost at the start, as well as the finish. Will she make the running at Chantilly? “If there’s absolutely no pace, you wouldn’t be frightened of doing so,” Gosden said.
“We wanted to let her use her stride today, to find that out. Chantilly’s a tricky track because they go and then pull it up on the bend. I said one day to Andre Fabre it is a beautiful track and he said ‘If I had my way, I would blow it up. Quite often, the best horse does not win’.”
Ulysses and Cracksman, Enable's stable companion who won the Great Voltigeur on Wednesday in imperious fashion, are next in the Arc betting - each are no bigger than 10-1 - but their respective owners do not seem to be entertaining the idea of taking part.
France’s home defence looks pitiful after Dual Classic winner Brametot’s flop last time, while Japan’s challenge looks like revolving around Satono Diamond, whose best form has been achieved beyond 1m4f. On his latest start he was third in the 2m Tenno Sho, at Kyoto, and he would surely be bigger than 12-1 in a year of more depth.
Aidan O’Brien enjoyed an historic 1-2-3 in the Arc last year, but the Ballydoyle maestro lacks a star three-year-old over a mile and a half and his principal older candidate, Highland Reel, who was runner-up in the Arc last year, was no match for Enable in the King George, albeit on ground that was softer than ideal for him.
“She’s the real deal, isn’t she? It was a textbook ride from Frankie and she’s the real McCoy,” said Kevin Buckley, representative for Coolmore. “My mind goes back to May when we took her on with Alluringly then.”
On that occasion, Alluringly got to within under two lengths of Enable in the Cheshire Oaks. Since then, they have met three more times and Enable has pummelled her by an aggregate of almost 40 lengths.
Already, there is debate about whether Enable will stay in training as a four-year-old. Dettori is very keen, believing that she will grow in to her frame. Gosden pointed to Khalid Abdullah's Midday racing on for several season and that as a daughter of Nathaniel, she will improve with age.
Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager for Prince Khalid, says no decision will be made until at least after the Arc, however.
“I know there is a great desire to see the good horses go on and on,” he said. “I think we have to sit down and see how she is, see what the plan of the attack could be.
“We understand it is an important thing for racing to have a filly of this calibre because she is a draw. She puts bums on seats. She’s also shown us she can mix with anything and that would have to be an encouraging factor.
“That is all taking into consideration but the priorities are her wellbeing and what Prince Khalid would like to do.”
Gosden and Dettori will be salivating at the prospect of her again strutting herself in 2018. Rival trainers less so.