Connections of Enable wary before Yorkshire Oaks challenge

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Tue 22 Aug 2017

By Andy Stephens

Enable will face five rivals when she attempts to secure a fourth successive Group One success in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York on Thursday.

The outstanding John Gosden-trained three-year-old, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, is a general 1-3 to extend her run of victories in the near mile and a half feature, which boasts prize money of £350,000 and forms part of the QIPCO British Champion Series.

The daughter of Nathaniel has won the Oaks, Irish Oaks and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by an aggregate of 15 lengths on her past three starts - in the process showing herself to be at home on quick ground and a slow surface.

However, Gosden could be forgiven for a degree of anxiety after two of his former stars suffered shock reverses at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival in recent years. Taghrooda had a similar profile to Enable when beaten at 1-5 in the 2014 running of the Yorkshire Oaks, while Golden Horn, whose exploits en route included winning the Investec Derby and Coral-Eclipse, was beaten at 4-9 in the Juddmonte International a year later.

“In all the big races everything has to go right, it doesn’t matter who or what you are,” Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager for Prince Khalid, said. “If you don’t bring your A Game then, no matter how good you are, you are not going to win.

“That is the hardest thing for people outside racing to understand. They are not machines and you can’t just change the tyres, fill up the oil, or whatever. When a horse is on form it always looks like smooth clockwork, but getting them to the races and in the best shape of mind is not an easy thing to do.”

Grimthorpe said some thought was given to Enable running in tomorrow’s Juddmonte International, sponsored by Prince Khalid’s breeding operation, against the colts over quarter of a mile less. “We like to look at all the options and it came under consideration,” he said. “We might have had another look had the ground come up extreme but, realistically, the Yorkshire Oaks was always the main aim.

“Touch wood, Enable has taken it all very well so far. She handles herself well under pressure, which is always a good sign. In the preliminaries she’s well collected and within herself, which is important before a big race.”

Frankel carried Prince Khalid’s colours with great majesty and won his ten Group 1 race by an average of about five lengths, and in that regard Enable is matching him so far. “We are not into Frankel territory, but we are into a wonderful territory,” Grimthorpe observed.

Enable is a top-priced 5-4 for her next intended outing, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly on October 1, and after that her connections hope she will be able to take up one of her two engagements on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on October 21. As for the possibility of her staying in training next year, Grimthorpe said: “That’s a conversation we will have deep into October.”

Gosden will also be represented by Coronet, who landed the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

Nezwaah, the general 6-1 second favourite, was a late withdrawal from the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood this month after the ground deteriorated, having previously won the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes in emphatic style at the Curragh.

The daughter of Dubawi will be having her first run beyond a mile and a quarter, although Varian is encouraged that her dam, Ferdoos, who he also trained, was a dual winner over a mile and a half.

“It was frustrating to miss the Nassau but I think it was the right call and we’ve got a fresh filly on our hands to have a crack at Enable and the others,” he said. “I’ve got every confidence she will get the trip. She was very strong at the line at the Curragh when she won the Pretty Polly. Her mother got better with age and she improved when we stepped her up her up to a mile and a half.”

The Newmarket trainer added: “Neswaah is a Group 1 winner but I think she’s still slightly unexposed and I’d say she’s the unknown quantity in the line-up. If the mile and a half brings out a bit more improvement then we will have a very exciting filly on our hands.

“Enable is a true champion and will be hard to beat. Her Oaks victories were fairly facile and she was very good in the King George, but we are excited about having a go.”

Sir Michael Stoute is seeking to saddle the winner of the Yorkshire Oaks for a remarkable tenth time, although he has been out of luck in the race since Quiff registered his ninth success in 2004. He relies on Queen’s Trust, who won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last year after finishing third in the Yorkshire Oaks, and Abingdon, a three-time Listed race winner.

Aidan O’Brien, who saddled the first two home last year - Seventh Heaven and Found - relies on Alluringly. She resumed winning ways at Listed level at Gowran Park on her latest start but has twice finished well adrift of Enable this season.

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