Frankie Dettori said the dream winning a third Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on Enable at Longchamp in October is still alive after she made history by becoming the first horse to win the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes three times at Ascot yesterday.
Victory in the most prestigious all-age mile and a half Flat race in Britain was another milestone performance for the six-year-old mare, who has now won 11 group one races, one more than the mighty Frankel.
Enable’s five and a half length win from 2019 Irish Derby winner Sovereign also allowed Dettori to move level with Lester Piggott on a record seven wins in the Qipco-sponsored King George.
But the only reason Enable was racing at Ascot yesterday and is not already in foal at owner Khaled Abdullah’s stud is because she was beaten a length and three-quarters by Waldgeist when going for her third Arc win last year.
It was a defeat both Dettori and Enable’s trainer John Gosden believe was down to them getting their tactics wrong on testing ground. A wrong they want to right.
Enable’s comeback defeat behind race-fit Ghaiyyath on the Eclipse Stakes had been understandable but even champions have to prove they have not lost the winning habit and a defeat yesterday would have been a third on the bounce for Enable.
It never looked likely as Dettori stylishly produced the mare to cut back Sovereign’s lead in the straight before a glance over his shoulder showed him his supposed main danger Japan was already in trouble under Ryan Moore.
Dettori said: ‘If she had shown any sign of weakness then going to the Arc would be a non-event. She showed she is still very competitive. Three King Georges is amazing but we want to win a third Arc. We came so close last year.
‘We are back on course. If she had finished third today you would have been saying scrap the idea and go to stud. But with a performance like that you have to be happy.
‘She is the same. She is not getting better but her enthusiasm throughout the race was clear to see.’
Having lost Arc favouritism to Aidan O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas and Oaks winner Love, Enable is now back as 11-4 favourite with Coral. Her Arc competitors could include last year’s third Sottsass, her stablemate Mishriff after his French Derby win this month and Ghaiyyath.
But Dettori, who unsurprisingly milked the moment at a crowdless Ascot in the knowledge he may only have two more races on Enable, added: ‘On this type of performance you think we are still in with a shot. She was like a hot knife through butter today. It is a great feeling.’
With Anthony Van Dyck a non-runner, only the two Aidan O’Brien-trained rivals lined up against Enable and Japan, who was beaten over 16 lengths, was a bitter disappointment given his trainer had talked up the two-time group one winner who had only been a head behind Enable when third in the Eclipse.
Gosden described Enable’s performance as ‘imperious’.
The trainer added: ‘Enable had trained beautifully for this race. I made it very clear to everyone that she wasn’t tuned properly for the Eclipse but the race put her right. I told Frankie to ride her with a lot of confidence.. She is back in top order, no doubt about that.’
York now beckons next month and the last time Enable will probably race on British soil.
Trying to win a second Yorkshire Oaks could mean a clash with Love. Dropping back to a mile and a quarter for the Juddmonte International Stakes will mean a re-match with Ghaiyyath.
There is no easy option but only one ultimate big target.