Enable relaxed and in the zone for Arc defence, says John Gosden

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Thu 6 Sep 2018

John Gosden says Enable’s comeback win at Kempton last month has helped the filly “relax and get in the zone” ahead of her defence of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in a week’s time.

The brilliant daughter of Nathaniel carried all before her last season when her fluent Arc success capped five successive Group One triumphs, but her return this year was delayed until this month after she was found to have suffered a knee injury in May.

Enable put that setback behind her in good style in the Group Three September Stakes at Kempton - making all and beating King George runner-up Crystal Ocean by three and a half lengths, albeit in receipt of 8lb.

Watch what James Willoughby and Angus McNae made of Enable's comeback win.

As a consequence she is no bigger than 5-4 to become only the eighth two-time winner of Europe’s premier middle-distance race - the last of the select group to achieve the feat being Treve in 2013 and 2014.

The participation of Cracksman, her stablemate, is in doubt because of the likelihood of fast ground but Aidan O’Brien revealed on Sunday that he could have three challengers headed by St Leger winner Kew Gardens.

“Getting out there and blowing the cobwebs away at Kempton has, mentally, settled Enable a lot,” Gosden said. “She was getting so angry and frustrated.

“It’s like any footballer or athlete, they want to get out and have a competition. Then you drop your shoulders a bit - you relax and get in the zone.

“He [Crystal Ocean] was giving her a lot of the weight but it was the all-weather, where weight matters less than on turf sometimes. She did it well and seems in great order. We are very happy with her.”

Some feared that Enable might not run again as the season drifted by without her but Gosden says he never shared those doubts.

“It was one of those tricky ones but it wasn’t that kind of [season-ending] thing,” he said. “It was a tiny little vessel that leaked into a bursa. It wasn’t anything to do with the dynamics or the mechanics.

Watch a full replay of how Enable won the Arc last year.

“It had to be fixed but it wasn’t like a fracture or a ligament, it was a blood vessel. I’m not saying it was as simple as cauterizing a nose bleed but it was in that department.

“It was beautifully handled by everybody - the vets and outr staff - but it did mean we had to stop and that you lost four months right in the middle of the racing season.”

He added: “It’s been a frustrating year as were hoping to run in King Georges’, Prince Of Wales’ and that sort of thing but it didn’t happen. However, as a benefit, she is fresh, if you look at it that way.”

Fast ground seems on the cards, unless there is heavy watering, and that means the prospects of Gosden also being represented by Cracksman, who is a general 9-1, are slim.

Sunday was another dry and sunny day in Paris, temperatures getting into the high teens.

Similar is forecast through the week, with the prospect of scattered showers on Wednesday being negated by sunny days thereafter. On Friday, it is forecast to be sunny all day and 22 degrees.

Cracksman has already missed several showpiece races this summer because of quick going and, unless conditions are deemed suitable, is likely to be saved for a farewell appearance in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 20, a race he won in dazzling style last year.

 St Leger Kew Gardens is on course to run in the Arc (FocusOnRacing)
St Leger Kew Gardens is on course to run in the Arc (FocusOnRacing)

Paris Longchamp was shut in 2016 and 2017 for refurbishment and, since reopening this year, the turf has come under close scrutiny.

Gosden has made no secret of the fact that he has reservations about the surface - triggered after Cracksman won the Prix Ganay there on April 30. Intentionally, he has not had a single runner at the track since.

“Specifically, we don’t want loose ground; rough ground,” he said, when asked what conditions he would like. “I was singularly unimpressed by the ground on Prix Ganay day and I don’t mind saying that.

“It then became a huge issue at the Guineas meeting in the middle of May. It’s not for me to say anything else - I haven’t run another horse at Longchamp since. Concerns about the ground have been well publicised.”

Kew Gardens, available at 16-1, is set to take his chance and could be joined in the line-up by stablemates Capri, who won the St Leger in 2017, and Hunting Horn. However, the master of Ballydoyle will not be represented by Forever Together, the runaway Oaks winner, who will not run again this season.

“The plan is that we are going towards the Arc with him,” O’Brien said of Kew Gardens. “There is a forfeit stage in the morning and he’s going to be left in. At the moment that’s what we are looking at doing. Hunting Horn is going to be left in as well and Capri as well.”

Outlining other possible running plans, O’Brien said: “Magic Wand might go for the fillies’ race (Prix de l’Opera). Pink Dogwood might go for the fillies’ race (Prix Marcel Boussac) and Broome might go to the colts’ race (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere).”

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