John Gosden is anticipating “a bit of a slog” as Enable faces her date with destiny in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.
The six-year-old will be bidding to become the first three-time winner of the Group One feature, but the ground is expected to be testing after a very wet week in France.
Enable has already secured her place in the record books by becoming the only triple victor in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot back in July, but Gosden expects conditions to add another dimension to the mare’s challenge in Paris.
He said: “She travelled fine, and everything has been fine.
“It’s just a shame about the ground. She doesn’t much like that ground. She prefers the easy side of good, so she can show her class, but it is going to be a bit of a slog.
“It is drying up now and it is tacky, but you might get another shower or two. It is Longchamp, by the River Seine – it is deep.”
Enable came within a length and three-quarters of completing her Arc hat-trick last year, and Gosden lauded owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s decision to give his homebred daughter of Nathaniel one more chance at an unprecedented feat in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
“I think Prince Khalid was brave in saying we’ll try again – it went a little wrong last year, but not far wrong, she ran a marvellous race.
“We’re here and we’re trying. We care about the filly in every way, she’s a gorgeous filly to be around and she’s been with us for five years, her presence every day – we just enjoy being with her and care for all of her needs.
“Let’s hope she gets a great run round – and if she wins, marvellous, if she doesn’t, she couldn’t have done more for racing. She reminds me of the Denman, Arkle, Desert Orchids – she’s that kind of feeling. These great racemares, they give everyone so much pleasure to see and race,” he told ITV Racing.
Gosden also has a second string to his bow in triple Ascot Gold Cup hero Stradivarius, who narrowly missed out in his Prix Foy trial over the Arc course and 12-furlong distance.
He added: “Enable’s got a pal in there called Stradivarius – and he’s a similar, wonderful, consistent performer at Group One level. It’s a pleasure to have them both there.
“Again the owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen has wanted to run in this race for two years, but I wouldn’t let him last year because he was going for the £1million (stayers) bonus and I said ‘this year, I can’t stop you’.
“If he handles the ground, he will run a big race. Frankie has called me and said it’s pretty desperate ground (after riding at the track on Saturday), so I’m going to go to the inside, but there’s three races before us.
“May the best horse win, whoever it is.”
Jean-Claude Rouget’s Sottsass was fourth last year – but momentum has been building behind his challenge this time.
“I’m of the opinion that Sottsass is on much better terms with himself at this stage of the season,” said Rouget.
“His race in Ireland did him a power of good (fourth to Magical). He should give a good account of himself on Sunday. As things stand, I have him in the same condition as last year, so I’m rediscovering the same horse as I did in the lead-up to the 2019 race.
“This year, I haven’t managed to get him in the same condition as now, owing to a racing calendar which has been perturbed by the pandemic. However, neither have I wished to go overboard, so as to ensure that that he’s a fresh horse come the Arc – which has always been his objective.
“I share the opinion that he hasn’t shown the required level of form to win the Arc this season, but I believe that he will run well and finish in the first three.”
Rouget also runs the filly Raabihah, for whom conditions are an unknown.
“Raabihah is similarly in peak condition,” he said.
“Our only question mark is the ground. This isn’t in the sense that she would be inconvenienced by a heavy track – we simply don’t know, because she has yet to tackle very soft conditions.”
Francis-Henri Grafford’s German Derby winner In Swoop has been well-backed in recent days, and is expected to enjoy the testing ground.
Graffard said: “The colt has yet to race on a surface as the one he is likely to encounter on Sunday. The ground was on the soft side when he raced at Lyon earlier in the season – and, clearly, that held no terrors for him. This was again the case when he did his final workout on Monday, when the ground was riding soft.
“He’s by nature a very calm horse, which can almost give the impression that he’s not engaged mentally in his race – as happened in the German Derby, because he was being scrubbed along in order to remain in touch, and he only really hit full stride in the final 200 metres of the race before going on to win.
“He has a lot of stamina and recovers well from his races. He’s constantly on the upgrade, and has come on for his last race – which was three weeks ago; on that occasion he wasn’t as fit as I would have liked, but that didn’t prevent him from surprising me in a very positive way.”