Enable put in a star performance to land the prestigious King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The John Gosden-trained filly hammered a field of talented colts, and in doing so leapt to the head of the market for the Arc in October.
Sent-off a short-priced favourite on Saturday, the result was never in doubt. Frankie Dettori kept matters simple, positioning the dual-Oaks winner to the fore throughout. Jack Hobbs looked a threat turning for home, but the 2015 Irish Derby winner is a shadow of his former self, and faded tamely out of contention. When Frankie said ‘go’ to the filly, she quickly put lengths between herself and the field. Only Ulysses proved capable of launching any sort of challenge, though even the Eclipse winner was comfortably brushed aside.
As in the English and Irish Oaks, the King George concluded with Enable first, the rest nowhere.
“All in all she's as good a filly as I've ever trained,” said a serene looking Gosden after the dazzling performance. “Taghrooda was brilliant to win this and she's following Dahlia and Pawneese. I am a great believer in this race being a meeting of the generations and she has proved it. She would have won on good ground. She just takes the race by the horns. The Yorkshire Oaks is where we want to go and then freshen up and see where we are about a race on October 1 (Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe). No preps or things, maybe a racecourse gallop and then the Arc.”
Dettori had starved himself to make the weight, and could not have been happier with the winner, saying: “I'm thrilled. I said to John after the Irish Oaks that I haven't had a feeling like that since Golden Horn in the Arc. I knew she was up to the task, but I didn't expect her to do that and she destroyed them. She is uncomplicated with a good mind. I was confident, then I started reading all these negative things, but I thought they have got to give a stone to a superstar and that was a big task for them.”
It’s true, that several ‘so called’ experts, had taken on the filly, putting up the likes of Ulysses and Jack Hobbs as potential winners, pointing to Enable’s lack of experience, or pouring scorn on the strength of those Oaks performances. At Geegeez, we were prepared to believe our eyes, and the noises coming from Gosden and Dettori. Thankfully the punters followed suit.
Of the also-rans, Ulysses ran a cracker, on ground that was far from ideal. On a sounder surface, he may have got closer to the filly, though better ground would also be loved by Enable. Sir Michael Stoute now has plenty of options for this progressive four-year-old, and said of the run: “I am delighted with him. We like him on better ground, but we were beaten by a very good filly. He is very versatile really. He gets a mile-and-a-half no problem. We can do 10 (furlongs), we can do 12.”
The Juddmonte International at York looks a likely target for Stoute’s colt, where a rematch with Barney Roy is a thrilling proposition.
Soft ground on Saturday put-paid to the chances of Highland Reel, and though a brave fourth, he never looked likely to land a blow. We are now in no doubt as to his preference for a sounder surface, and trips abroad in the autumn are sure to bring further success. Idaho ran a promising race in third, though looked out-paced turning for home, before staying-on strongly approaching the post. A step-up in trip seems likely for the colt, with the Ascot Gold Cup a possible long-term target.
For Enable, all roads now lead to Chantilly in October. John Gosden can rest easier, knowing that his star filly is just as effective on soft ground. And should she arrive there fit and well, there’s every chance she can replicate Golden Horn, giving Gosden his second Arc in three years.