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Gosden heads Newmarket team as Racing League sides are announced

John Gosden is combining with three fellow Newmarket trainers as one of the 12 teams in the Racing League competition – which launches next summer.

This year’s champion Flat trainer will join forces with Sir Mark Prescott, Robert Cowell and David Simcock in the new initiative which will see the dozen teams compete across 36 races over six weeks at Newcastle, Doncaster, Lingfield and Windsor.

Each event will be worth £50,000, with prize money totalling £1.8 million for the series, which will run from July 29 until September 2, 2021.

There is another Newmarket team of Michael Bell, Ed Dunlop, James Fanshawe and Roger Varian, making three in all after the first six squads were announced two weeks ago.

In the remaining six teams announced on Tuesday, Lambourn will be represented by Clive Cox, Nicky Henderson, Charlie Hills and Jamie Osborne.

Rutland trainer Mick Appleby will join northern-based Michael Dods, David O’Meara and Paul Midgley – while Mick Channon is partnering with Paul and Oliver Cole, Eve Johnston Houghton and Hughie Morrison for an additional southern-based team.

French handlers Philippe Decouz, Gavin Hernon and Edouard Monfort will combine to add to the Irish challenge of brothers Donnacha and Joseph O’Brien announced in the first batch of six.

Jeremy Wray, Racing League’s chief executive said: “We are really pleased to have such an illustrious group of trainers forming the 12 teams and are delighted to be adding an international flavour with the teams from Ireland and France.

“The next step will be for each team to select their three jockeys.”

Uncle Bryn continues progression at Wolverhampton

Uncle Bryn is a general 20-1 shot for next year’s Derby after maintaining his unbeaten record with a dominant display at Wolverhampton.

The son of Sea The Stars made a big impression on his racecourse introduction at the start of September, and was the 2-9 favourite to follow up in the Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free EBF Novice Stakes at Dunstall Park.

Ridden by Robert Havlin, Uncle Bryn was sent straight to the lead and the further he went the better he looked – kicking clear under just hand driving in the straight for a four-and-a-quarter-length success over Jaramillo.

Thady Gosden, assistant to his father, said: “We’re very happy with him. He was obviously carrying a penalty and he’s still a little bit green, with it being only his second start, but he did it impressively.

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“There’s a bit of speed in his pedigree, so he’ll probably start off over a mile an a quarter next year and we’ll see whether he wants to step up to a mile and a half or not.”

Havlin was similarly impressing, telling Sky Sports Racing: “He was still a bit green in front and a bit raw – he’s very much a baby.

“Because of the size of him and letting him develop, we’ve had to ease off at certain times of his progression, so he hasn’t had the schooling that everything else has had.

“He’ll have learnt plenty today. He’s a nice type going forward and he’s going to strengthen up in the winter.”

Jack Hobbs (left) chases home Golden Horn in the Derby at Epsom
Jack Hobbs (left) chases home Golden Horn in the Derby at Epsom (PA)

Gosden is not afraid to run a high-class prospect at Wolverhampton, with the promising Waldkonig making a winning debut at the track last year and, even more notably, Jack Hobbs doing so in 2014.

The latter went on to chase home esteemed stablemate Golden Horn in the Dante at York and the Derby at Epsom, before winning the Irish Derby and later the Dubai Sheema Classic.

“It’s good to get one or two runs into them at this time of year if you can, for a bit of education,” Thady Gosden added.

Gosden and Havlin were denied a Wolverhampton double, with 4-6 favourite Alexej proving no match for Saeed bin Suroor’s newcomer Silent Escape (100-30) in the Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Novice Stakes, with Hector Crouch the winning rider.

Crouch said: “She was a bit sharper than I was expecting her to be. She travelled very nicely and showed a nice, sharp turn of foot.

“She’s still very green and will improve a lot.”

Gosden and Dettori seeking Global dominance in Bahrain

John Gosden and Frankie Dettori can look forward plenty of local support when they team up with Global Giant in the Bahrain International Trophy on Friday.

Bought primarily with this race in mind out of Ed Dunlop’s yard by Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa – a driving force behind the event – the five-year-old has won two of his four starts for current connections.

A Listed winner in July, the Shamardal entire was bogged down by heavy ground at Haydock in a Group Three last time out.

Assistant trainer Thady Gosden said: “Global Giant was purchased by HH Shaikh Isa and Jake Warren with this race in mind.

“He won the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury before unfortunately encountering unsuitably soft ground at Haydock on his last start. Ideally, we’d have had a prep race before this, but the ground went at the end of the season, so we thought the best thing to do was to leave him and bring him here fresh.

“His work here has been good. The turf track here is world class and he’s enjoyed the faster ground. We are drawn five which we are happy about. They say the inside of the track is where you want to be.”

“It would be wonderful to win the race for His Highness Shaikh Isa, this race was his brainchild so it would mean a lot to him.”

Aidan O’Brien has his first runner in Bahrain in the shape of last year’s Irish Derby winner Sovereign.

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He was last seen running over two miles on Champions Day at Ascot.

“I don’t think he ran too bad at Ascot, he just got tired late on,” said O’Brien.

“He seems in good form since and he should like the ground.

“This is 10 furlongs so we’ll find out a lot, he’s in good order. He’s going there quite a fresh horse and he’s lightly raced. It looks a very good track and everyone is very positive about it.”

Andrew Balding’s Bangkok ran in the Derby last year and was second in the King Edward VII Stakes, but he has not been seen since finishing last in the Eclipse to Ghaiyyath due to injury.

“He had two tough assignments in the UK this year in very strong Group Ones. He actually ran quite well in the Coral-Eclipse and wasn’t beaten far by six very high-class horses,” said Balding.

“He threw a splint which is quite a common injury, but less common with older horses like him. He was very sore, and we had to give him plenty of time, but we’ve been very happy with him since he came back into training. He’s coming here pretty much match fit.

“This race has been the target ever since we realised that we’d have to sit out the bulk of the summer season at home. We ran Pivoine here for King Power (owners). I’d say Bangkok is probably a cut above Pivoine but he’ll need to be.”

Mick Channon’s Certain Lad was unplaced under a big weight in the Cambridgeshire last time out but prior to that had won the Strensall Stakes at York.

Assistant trainer Jack Channon said: “We’re very happy with him. He’s a very good traveller who takes it all in his stride. He’s been very relaxed since he came over and has eaten and trained well since he got off the plane.

“You’d have to say his performance in the Strensall was a career best, he beat some nice horses that day and we’re hoping he can keep progressing from there.

“To win the Bahrain International Trophy would be fantastic. We all know that money talks and it helps to run the business. Chris (Hurst, owner) has been a great supporter of ours and has quite a few horses in training and to be able to have a go at pots like this can really help people like him stay in the game.”

Hollie Doyle teams up with the Japanese star Deirdre in what is set to be her final run before retirement.

The daughter of Harbinger has campaigned almost exclusively in Europe for the past two years and has a Group One win at Goodwood to show for her efforts, but has been bogged down by soft ground on more than one occasion.

Assistant trainer Yoshi Hashida said: “Her condition going into the Arc was perfect, but the heavy ground went against her. The French horses coped with it better.

“Her two Group One wins came on right-handed tracks at Kyoto and Goodwood. The long straight at Sakhir will suit her. The track looks very fair and we like the firm ground that we will get. We are very excited to take part in the race.”

Deirdre has been ridden by Oisin Murphy and latterly Jamie Spencer but Hashida is excited at linking up with Doyle, who has enjoyed a stellar season.

“We’ve seen that Hollie Doyle is one of the best jockeys in Britain this season,” he said.

“Deirdre is now six and she is a very clever horse, we need something fresh to energise her and that is why we feel that Hollie is an ideal jockey for her. We have found that when a female work rider rides her, that suits her better.

“Mitsuru (Hashida) has said that this will likely be Deirdre’s last race. We are emotional that this journey is almost over.”

O’Brien hunting seventh Turf triumph with Magical and Mogul

Magical and Mogul give Aidan O’Brien a formidable hand as he goes in search of a seventh victory in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

It is 18 years since High Chaparral provided the Ballydoyle handler with his first triumph in the mile-and-a-half contest. Twelve months later, the same horse dead-heated with Johar in an epic finish.

O’Brien has since added to his tally with St Nicholas Abbey (2011), Magician (2013), Found (2015) and Highland Reel (2016) and appears to have an excellent chance of adding to his tally at Keeneland on Saturday.

Magical has previous at the Breeders’ Cup, having pushed the great Enable to three-quarters of a length in this race two years ago.

She was set to be retired after winning last year’s Champion Stakes at Ascot, but returned for another campaign and has won another three Group Ones to take her top-level total to seven. She finished third when defending her Champion Stakes crown three weeks ago.

“Magical was going to go to No Nay Never, but at the start of the year the lads had a chat. We said how well she had done over the winter – physically she really changed – and we felt it was worth letting her have another year,” said O’Brien.

“We’re delighted we made that decision. We felt it was right as she was sound and her mind was very good.

“We started to race early in the year and she went from race to race. She’s an amazing filly and we’re lucky to have her.”

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Stablemate Mogul has not been seen in competitive action since running out an impressive winner of the Grand Prix de Paris in September, having since missed an intended outing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe due to a well documented issue with contaminated feed.

“He’s in good form. Obviously, he’s had a busy year. I suppose his last run was his most impressive when he won the Grand Prix de Paris on a bit of nice ground,” O’Brien added.

“He travelled very well, quickened well and we were pleased with how he came out of the race.”

Dual Group One-winning filly Tarnawa bids to provide Dermot Weld with his very first Breeders’ Cup success.

Tarnawa (left) represents Dermot Weld
Tarnawa (left) represents Dermot Weld (Niall Carson/PA)

The Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera heroine also had the option of running in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, but instead takes on the boys in the longer of the two races.

She will be ridden by Colin Keane, because intended partner Christophe Soumillon was ruled out on Friday after testing positive for Covid-19.

Weld said: “She’s equally as effective over 10 furlongs and a mile and a half.

“I think she’s very tough, sound and genuine, so is well suited to the Breeders’ Cup. Most importantly, she’s a stayer with speed.

“I think in this difficult year, great credit must be given to the Breeders’ Cup for their organisation and help and their ability to put on the fixture. They really need great credit for what they’re achieving.”

Lord North wins at Royal Ascot
Lord North wins at Royal Ascot (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

Enable’s trainer John Gosden is this year represented by Lord North and Mehdaayih.

Lord North won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in the summer, but finished tailed off on his return to the Berkshire circuit for last month’s Champion Stakes.

Mehdaayih, meanwhile, has raced just twice in 2020 thus far, most recently finishing fourth in Ascot’s Qipco British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes.

“The Champion Stakes was unfortunately run on a quagmire, which wasn’t a lot of help to Lord North nor Magical,” said Gosden.

“We’d had record rain in October, so both with the Arc in Paris and on Champions Day at Ascot, you were running in the deepest ground I’ve ever seen. It was drying out ground, which becomes very sticky and gluey.

“Prior to that Lord North ran a lovely race to finish third in the Juddmonte International at York, having previously won the Prince of Wales, and we’re looking forward to running him here.

“Mehdaayih ripped her back when she ran in the Prince of Wales’s (finished sixth), so she had a long time off and we only just managed to get her back for Champions Day.”

Audarya flies the flag for Fanshawe at Breeders’ Cup

James Fanshawe is relishing the prospect of sending out his first Breeders’ Cup runner when Audarya contests Saturday’s Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf.

The daughter of Wootton Bassett was winning a handicap on the all-weather at Newcastle as recently as early August, but has made huge progress since by claiming a surprise Group One win in the Prix Jean Romanet before finishing a close third in the Prix de l’Opera.

Fanshawe is well aware of the task facing his charge in America, but is adamant she is not there just to make up the numbers.

He said: “It’s a very different track to what she’s been racing on – it’s round two bends and much tighter.

“She’s a very well balanced filly, so I don’t think that will be a problem, and what will suit her is a truly-run race.

“At this time of year you’re just hoping your filly is in the same form as she has been for her last two races, as you’re going into the winter and some thrive and some start to hibernate.

“She seems well and is showing no signs of that. I hope she’ll run a very big race.”

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British hopes are also carried by John Gosden’s Terebellum.

Impressive in the Group Two Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket in early June, the Godolphin-owned four-year-old was subsequently narrowly denied Group One glory in both the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.

However, she could finish only fifth on her latest appearance in the Sun Chariot.

Gosden said: “It was very, very soft ground for Newmarket in the Sun Chariot. They seldom called it heavy and that was the description they were giving on the day.

“She found that a little bit too testing. Like most horses, she likes what we call good ground.”

Aidan O’Brien’s Peaceful and Cayenne Pepper, from Jessica Harrington’s yard, represent Ireland.

Following three successive runner-up finishes, Cayenne Pepper ran out an impressive winner of the Group Two Blandford Stakes at the Curragh in September.

“I think it probably was a career-best last time,” said Harrington.

“I was convinced she was a mile-and-a-half filly, but in the Irish Oaks and in the race at Cork (Give Thanks Stakes), she was in front until the last half-furlong and got run out of it.

“Bringing her back in trip for the Blandford, and winning it like she did, I really was absolutely delighted with her.”

Kevin Ryan is looking forward to saddling Glass Slippers
Kevin Ryan is looking forward to saddling Glass Slippers (PA)

Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup action gets under way with the Filly & Mare Sprint, for which Bob Baffert’s Gamine is the likely favourite.

The following race is the Turf Sprint, in which Kevin Ryan is set to saddle dual Group One-winning filly Glass Slippers, who was last seen finishing second when bidding for back-to-back wins in the Prix de l’Abbaye.

Ryan said: “She’s a top-class filly and the Breeders’ Cup is a very important meeting – it’s nice to have a filly that is good enough to run there.

“She comes out of her races very well – she’s very tough and genuine.

“She’s one of the best I’ve trained. She’s just been a very progressive filly who has kept on improving and I’m very privileged to have her to train.”

Chad Brown’s Complexity and the Brad Cox-trained Knicks Go are among the leading contenders for the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, while George Weaver’s Vekoma and Steven Asmussen’s unbeaten colt Yaupon lock horns in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Cox’s Monomoy Girl is a hot favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, ahead of Kenny McPeek’s Swiss Skydiver.

Gosden’s two-pronged attack on Breeders’ Cup Turf

John Gosden is set to be double-handed in next week’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf with both Lord North and Mehdaayih likely to line up at Keeneland.

Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Lord North is only entered for the 12-furlong contest, but Mehdaayih was put in both that race and the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf over nearly 10 furlongs.

However, she is not among the first 14 contenders for that race at the pre-entry stage, so Gosden will instead look to run her in the longer event on November 7.

He said: “I think she’s going to be running in the mile-and-a-half Turf. At the moment she’s on the also-eligible (for the Filly & Mare), so we just made a commitment to run in the Turf over a mile and a half.

“She stays the distance very well and I’m perfectly aware it’s a high-class race but hopefully there might be a little less traffic problems with slightly less runners.”

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Lord North finished last on deep ground in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on his latest run, but Gosden added: “We’re looking forward to running him, he worked nicely this morning with Frankie Dettori on him. The plane leaves Stansted on Friday.”

While Mehdaayih appears unlikely to run in the Filly & Mare, Gosden will still be represented by Terrebellum, winner of the Dahlia Stakes back in June and a narrow second in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.

Gosden told a Breeders’ Cup teleconference: “Her best run was probably in the Queen Anne, when she went down a head to a very good colt that Aidan trains. She’s in top form, ready for this race and she’ll then be heading to the breeding sheds afterwards.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously presented extra difficulties in terms of global campaigning of horses this year, but Gosden underlined the effort put in by the Breeders’ Cup organisers to ensure European challengers could attend.

He said: “Everyone has gone out of their way to make it feasible for us, I’ve been most impressed with the protocols put in place and how helpful everyone has been.

“It’s not easy but my staff had Covid-19 tests yesterday, they were all negative so they will be planning to fly tomorrow as they’re not allowed to come on the horse plane and then be meeting the horses when they get to Keeneland.

“I’m sure there’ll be a lot of protocols on the ground, I know the jockeys aren’t allowed in the barn, so that will stop Mr Dettori trying to train them all – they’ll have to meet him outside!

“We just have to get on with it.”

While Gosden’s team will be in attendance, the trainer will not travel himself.

He added: “I’m not going to be travelling to Keeneland – I have a full team going, but I won’t be there myself sadly this year.

“At the moment I’ve got an awful lot to run here and I’ve got fabulous people going, so I’ll leave it to them and Mr Dettori likes to play trainer too, so he can do both jobs!”

Gosden bids fond farewell to magnificent Enable

John Gosden and his staff at Clarehaven waved goodbye to Enable for the final time on Thursday, as the great mare left for her new home at Banstead Manor Stud.

It had already been announced the dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner will be covered by Kingman, also owned by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms operation.

The daughter of Nathaniel was retired last week, with connections resisting the temptation for one last hurrah at Ascot or at the Breeders’ Cup after the brilliant mare was bogged down by heavy ground bidding for a third Arc win.

Enable won the King George at Ascot for the third time in July
Enable won the King George at Ascot for the third time in July (Bill Selwyn/PA)

“Enable goes to the stud today, she’s just had a wind down after the Arc and actually it’s very pleasurable as she’s leaving happy and sound, very full of herself and very contented,” Gosden told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

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“It’s wonderful to have had all that racing at two, three, four, five and six and retire her sound. Mr (Frankie) Dettori was here, popped the silks on and sat on her, like the old pictures we have in the yard.

“The ones you really love are the ones that try, give everything and want to work with you. She was the most fantastic filly for her sheer appetite and joy for training.

“It’s like working with people, when you have someone with a positive mindset it makes it more pleasurable.”

He went on: “Of course, she had an international following so I will probably sleep a little better now she’s gone as the weight of responsibility will be lessened somewhat.

“In a sense there was a bit of relief when the decision was made to retire her. We all know what happened in France, that’s life, there had been talk of Ascot but looking at the ground I’m glad we ruled that one out.

“The other option was to go to Kentucky, she’s won a Breeders’ Cup but Churchill has a longer stretch than Keeneland which suits her style of running, so while she is in great nick, we decided we’re not going to go any more.”

Palace Pier lost his unbeaten record on Champions Day
Palace Pier lost his unbeaten record on Champions Day (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Gosden endured a rare blank on Qipco Champions Day, which in part he put down to the testing conditions, but four of his beaten stars will be back for more next year.

“Palace Pier pulled a shoe off leaving the stalls and was quite sore, he hasn’t been ridden since. He probably did very well to finish third, but he’ll be all right for next year,” said Gosden.

“Mishriff will come back as well, he found the ground too deep. Lord North will hopefully be back and the great Stradivarius will try to win a fourth Gold Cup.”

Gosden also mooted his possible Breeders’ Cup squad.

He said: “At the moment we’re considering Lord North for the Turf, he hated the ground at Ascot. We have Terebellum, who didn’t run at Ascot thank goodness, she could go for the Filly & Mare and we’re also looking at that for Mehdaayih, who actually ricked her back in the Prince of Wales’s so has only had one run since.”

Home fixture as Stradivarius eyes second Long Distance crown

John Gosden believes a return to a more conventional style of racing will help Stradivarius regain his title in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.

His last two races have come in France over a mile and a half in the Prix Foy and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and Gosden feels he is unsuited to the sprint finishes that invariably prevail across the Channel.

The champion stayer could never strike a blow when seventh to Sottsass in the big one, but Gosden is confident he will show his true colours back in a race he won in 2018 and has been placed in twice.

Gosden said: “The Arc was run very much in the manner of a typical French style race, where they went steady then quickened.

“Having spoken at length with Mr (Bjorn) Nielsen (owner), the plan next year is to go for a fourth Gold Cup – and as he won’t be running until May, here we are at the end of the season and we thought we would have a go at the Champions Day race.

“The ground at Royal Ascot (where Stradivarius won his third Gold Cup this summer) was what I would call ‘wet soft’, and this is going to be more ‘holding soft’.

“It has been very wet – and unless we get some rain overnight, it will be riding holding and a little bit sticky. I think the ground will worry a lot of people – because most horses like to get through it and they like it loose wet, rather than holding.

“Last year it was run on the inner track. He ran a great race. They (Stradivarius and Kew Gardens) crossed the line together, and he was beaten a nose. The year before, he and the jockey (Frankie Dettori) did a Houdini act in getting out of a box that had been nicely set up for them.”

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Search For A Song takes on Stradivarius after winning the Irish St Leger for the second successive year
Search For A Song takes on Stradivarius after winning the Irish St Leger for the second successive year (PA)

Search For A Song, trained by Dermot Weld, is seen as Stradivarius’ biggest rival on Saturday – having completed back-to-back victories in the Irish St Leger on her latest start.

“It was great to win this race with Forgotten Rules (in 2014), and we’d love to win again, “ said Fiona Craig, of owners Moyglare Stud.

“Hopefully the ground isn’t too soft, because I’m not sure she’d want a bog.

“We’d rather not be taking on Stradivarius, obviously, but he did run in the Arc a couple of weeks ago. I know they’re saying he didn’t have a hard race, but he still ran a mile and a half in heavy ground.

Trainer Dermot Weld pats Search For A Song after her latest win in the Irish St Leger at the Curragh
Trainer Dermot Weld pats Search For A Song after her latest win in the Irish St Leger at the Curragh (PA)

“Our mare is going into it and good form, and she’s fresh and well, so we’ll what happens.”

Weld, seeking a third win in the race, said: “Search For A Song has never raced over further than a mile and six, but she wasn’t stopping at the end of the St Leger – and that’s what is giving me the encouragement to have a crack at it.”

Aidan O’Brien sent out Kew Gardens to just deny Stradivarius 12 months ago, and the Ballydoyle trainer has a team of three this time in Sovereign, Dawn Patrol and Broome.

“Sovereign was going for the Arc, and they all can’t run in the Champion Stakes. We always felt he would get further than a mile and a half,” he said.

Aidan O’Brien is three-handed in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot
Aidan O’Brien is three-handed in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot (PA)

“Broome hasn’t run in a long time, but we always felt he would stay further than a mile and a half, and he seems to be in good form.

“Dawn Patrol won a Group Three at the Curragh over two miles last time. He handles an ease in the ground, we think.

“He probably wants to be ridden a bit patiently, but he looks very comfortable over two miles. We were very happy with him the last day at the Curragh.

“Stradivarius is a great horse, and it will be a very competitive race.”

Andrew Balding has contrasting views on ground conditions for his two runners, Spanish Mission and Morando.

Trainer Andrew Balding runs Spanish Mission and Morando in Ascot's stamina test
Trainer Andrew Balding runs Spanish Mission and Morando in Ascot’s stamina test (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Spanish Mission was very impressive in the Doncaster Cup last time. He’s a horse who historically has not wanted the ground too soft, so that’s a concern for him,” said Balding.

“Morando, on the other hand, loves it when the mud is flying. It’s a new venture going two miles with him, but the way he’s shaped in his races in the last two seasons suggests that two miles is well within his compass now – and he goes well at Ascot.”

William Haggas realises the task facing Monica Sheriff, who has yet to hit form this term after going through last season unbeaten in four races.

“She’s very well, but she’s got a lot to do. I’m hoping rather than anything else,” said the Newmarket trainer.

Palace Pier puts unbeaten record on line in QEII

Palace Pier will face 13 rivals as he bids to maintain his unbeaten record in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Qipco British Champions Day.

John Gosden’s lightly-raced colt stepped up from winning a handicap at Newcastle soon after racing’s resumption in June to winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting.

He then travelled to France to beat Europe’s best milers in the Prix Jacques le Marois and is an odds-on favourite to take his record to six from six.

Gosden also runs the filly Nazeef – who has been a star for connections this season, winning at Royal Ascot and also at the highest level in the Falmouth and Sun Chariot Stakes.

Palace Pier’s main rival could be last year’s runner-up The Revenant, who only made his seasonal reappearance at the recent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting when winning the Prix Daniel Wildenstein for a second time.

He found only King Of Change a length and a quarter too good 12 months ago, and will once again have the soft ground he so loves.

Aidan O’Brien runs Circus Maximus, the ultra-consistent four-year-old, but he has plenty of ground to make up on the favourite from their run in France two months ago.

O’Brien will also be represented by Lancaster House and Royal Dornoch.

Century Dream will run in the race for a third time, having finished third two years ago and seventh last year, while Lord Glitters will also be making his third appearance in the race.

Dark Vision, Escobar, Roseman, Sir Busker, Molatham and Sir Michael Stoute’s Veracious, last year’s Falmouth winner, complete the list.

There was no sign of Benbatl in either this race or the Champion Stakes, for Saeed bin Suroor.

Havlin reflects on Enable career following superstar’s retirement

Robert Havlin, who steered Enable to the first of her 15 career victories, admits the superstar mare will leave “a big hole” in John Gosden’s yard following her retirement on Monday.

The six-year-old will go down as one of the greats following a glittering career, during which she claimed 11 Group One events, including back-to-back victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and a record three wins in the King George at Ascot.

While Frankie Dettori was on board for all of the big days, Enable’s journey began with an impressive display under Havlin in a Newcastle maiden almost four years ago.

Reflecting on that opening success, the jockey said: “When I won on her she was still a shell of a horse, but obviously had class.

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“After Newcastle she was put away for the winter and started to fill her frame. Coming into the spring, she was starting to get noticed. Her work was always pointing to her being a good mile-and-a-half filly, but as time went on, she kept getting stronger and improving.

“The other thing that always stood out about Enable is she’s always been a very intelligent filly – she certainly worked out how to use her gears and win very early in her life.

“She knows what’s going on around her and is very inquisitive.”

Enable will go down as one of the great mares
Enable will go down as one of the great mares (Julian Herbert/PA)

While Havlin never partnered Enable again competitively following that debut victory, he rode her in plenty of work in Newmarket, something which he always felt was a huge privilege.

He added: “She’ll leave a big hole in the yard now she has gone. She had a presence about the place and it won’t feel the same without her.

“We were here for the golden years and they will be golden memories to look back on.

“She had that presence on the Heath and everybody stopped and looked at her. You felt important when you were riding her, so that was good.

“I’ve not sat on her much this year as I’ve been riding Stradivarius most of the time, but in the previous years I sat on her quite a lot at home.

“There were always people waiting to take pictures as she walked past and you would hear them asking ‘is that Enable?’. She was famous in her own right and a bit of Hollywood-type superstar in Newmarket.”

Enable has a date in the breeding shed with former Gosden ace Kingman next spring and Havlin believes it could be match made in heaven.

He said: “You couldn’t have picked a better sire for her to partner in Kingman. He was a horse I used to ride a lot at home as well – hopefully they will produce some nice babies and we get to sit on them.”

Marrakech Moon shines bright for Gosden and Havlin

John Gosden celebrated a winner on the day he said farewell to Enable after Marrakech Moon struck gold at the second time of asking at Yarmouth.

Despite showing signs of greenness in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes, the 5-2 favourite picked up well late on in the seven-furlong prize to reel in Aquaman and score by half a length.

Robert Havlin, who partnered Enable to glory on her debut at Newcastle in 2016, said: “It’s a sad day, but a happy day as well. It is a sad day, but it is good for her that she can now relax and enjoy herself.”

He added of the winner, who is a son of No Nay Never: “He still showed signs of babyness and that was very much the case on his first run.

“He was on and off the bridle that day, but finished well and he has taken that step forward today.

“I was keen to keep him handy as I didn’t want to give too much ground away, as it was borderline heavy out there.

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“I loved his attitude as he knuckled down well and handled that ground and there is a good chance we will see him out again before the end of the season.”

Oisin Murphy expects plenty more to come from the Andrew Balding-trained Opera Gift (11-4) who backed up his last time out victory at Pontefract to claim the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap by three lengths.

Murphy said: “Andrew felt he was better than his opening mark and it was a good spot by him to get him to win at Pontefract last time.

“Hopefully he will go on and progress. He stays well and handles that ground and I think he will get further than that.”

After the race the reigning champion jockey issued his own tribute to Enable following news of the great mare’s retirement.

Murphy said: “I competed against her, but I never managed to beat her.

“She has been a star for racing and credit to the whole team at Clarehaven Stables and Juddmonte and everyone connected to her.”

Andrea Atzeni can expect to be kept busy during Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, and he kick-started his build up with a facile success aboard Whitehaven in the Visit attheraces.com Handicap.

Atzeni said of the Hughie Morrison-trained 9-2 shot: “The ground here is hard work and although she did win with cut in the ground at Lingfield it was a bit heavier here. I spoke to Hughie before the race and he said the race at Kempton didn’t suit her, but today she settled nicely and pulled away well.”

Looking ahead to Ascot, the Classic-winning rider is most excited about being reunited with Ebor winner Fujaira Prince, who will be stepping up to two miles for the first time in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.

He said: “It was a great performance in the Irish St Leger (second to Search For A Song) and maybe the ground had dried up a little bit too much for him.

“He likes Ascot and I think he will stay the two miles. He is in great order and we are very hopeful.”

Aldaary, from the yard of William Haggas, put in the performance of the meeting when running out an impressive winner of the British EBF Novice Stakes.

Jim Crowley, rider of the 11-4 joint-favourite, said: “He jumped and travelled well and did it all professionally. It was a very taking performance for his first start.”

Unbeaten Palace Pier on track for QEII mission

Palace Pier remains on course to defend his unbeaten record at Ascot on Saturday after featuring among 18 remaining contenders for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Trained by John Gosden, Palace Pier is a hot favourite to extend his winning run to six under Frankie Dettori, having landed the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

Gosden also has high-class fillies Nazeef and Terebellum in the mix for the Qipco-sponsored showpiece following the confirmation stage.

The Andrew Balding-trained Kameko claimed Classic glory in the 2000 Guineas in the spring, and after finishing fourth in the Derby, the Sussex Stakes and the Juddmonte International, he made a successful return to a mile in in last month’s Joel Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien has a trio of hopefuls in Circus Maximus, Lancaster House and Royal Dornoch, while Benbatl is in contention for Saeed bin Suroor, although, as with Kameko, the prospect of testing conditions will be a concern.

Francis-Henri Graffard’s mud-lover The Revenant was runner-up to King Of Change in last year’s renewal and will return in a bid to go one better following a recent successful return to action at ParisLongchamp.

The Revenant (red) chases home King Of Change in last year's Champion Stakes
The Revenant (red) chases home King Of Change in last year’s Champion Stakes (Simon Cooper/PA)

Graffard said: “Everything is fine. The horse needed the run the other day, he has improved a lot and he should be spot on for Saturday.

“I don’t think the ground will be as soft as last year, but it should be fine for him.

“Hopefully he is ready to do his best and I hope he can finish in the first three, like last year.”

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Century Dream and David O’Meara’s pair of Escobar and Lord Glitters also feature.

Dettori hails ‘one of the greats’ as Enable bows out

Frankie Dettori was fighting back the tears on Monday as he paid an emotional tribute to Enable following her retirement.

The popular Italian rode John Gosden’s brilliant mare on all but two of her 19 career starts, steering her to each of her two victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and three wins in the King George at Ascot.

The six-year-old was back in sixth when bidding to make history with a third Arc at ParisLongchamp just over a week ago, and Dettori admitted to having mixed emotions after receiving confirmation on Sunday evening that she had run her final race.

He said: “Lord Grimthorpe rang me last night. Obviously I shed a tear as I was a bit emotional. I went to see her this morning. I accept the decision and she doesn’t owe anyone anything. It has been a great journey for three and a half years.

“She has touched my heart and has been one of the great mares of our generation. She has won 11 Group Ones and has simply been amazing.”

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Dettori identified Enable’s first Arc success at Chantilly in 2017 as her best performance, while getting huge pleasure out of her second King George victory which came after a titanic tussle with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean last year.

On her first Arc success, Dettori said: “The best performance was the first Arc.

“I knew had the race won by the chateau in Chantilly, she was just in unbeatable form that day.

“The King George against Crystal Ocean stands out – she had every chance of throwing in the towel and she didn’t.

“The Oaks would be the other standout race as that is when she first really burst on to the scene.”

While connections did not immediately rule out running Enable again following her latest visit to Paris, Dettori conceded that deep down he knew it would be the last time he would sit on her back – competitively at least.

There were plenty of flying dismounts from Dettori during Enable's stellar career
There were plenty of flying dismounts from Dettori during Enable’s stellar career (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He added: “After walking back in after the Arc I was trying to enjoy it, as I knew in my heart it was going to be her last race. It is a tough task after finishing sixth in the Arc to have one more dance, so I half-expected this decision.

“It would have been unfair on her. Maybe she is now telling us something, but she has left the game in one piece and luckily for me she is still in Newmarket, so I can still see her. I will go feed her Polos at the stud, obviously not every day, but when I can.

“I’ve been begging John to put me on her one last time in a morning so I can give her my last goodbye.”

He added: “Her longevity and CV is amazing. I’ve got to stay and ride for another three more years, as she is going to Kingman and I wouldn’t mind trying the progeny!

“If they are half as good they are going to be exciting.”

Magical and Mishriff head 16 contenders in Champion Stakes mix

Magical and Mishriff are two of 16 horses confirmed for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The brilliant mare Magical provided Aidan O’Brien with his first first victory in the 10-furlong showpiece 12 months ago, and will return to Berkshire after successfully defending her crown in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

O’Brien could also call upon Japan, Sovereign, Mogul and Derby winner Serpentine. Magical retains an entry in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on the same card.

The John Gosden-trained Mishriff has emerged as a top-class colt this summer, claiming Classic glory in the Prix du Jockey at Chantilly before returning to France to win the Group Two Prix Guillaume d’Ornano in August.

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Gosden could also saddle Lord North, who was a runaway winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and was last seen finishing third behind Ghaiyyath and Magical in the Juddmonte International at York.

The William Haggas-trained Addeybb was runner-up to Magical in last year’s renewal and will return in a bid to go one better.

Other contenders include William Muir’s St Leger third Pyledriver, possible French challenger Skalleti and Saeed bin Suroor’s Benbatl, who is also entered in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Muir is looking forward to seeing Pyledriver drop back in distance on Qipco British Champions Day as he seeks a first Group One win after 29 years with a licence.

Muir said: “He’s getting stronger and is starting to retain his weight easier. His work has been good, the same as ever, and I’m very confident I’ve still got him at his best.

“I think if it hadn’t been for this type of year, we would probably not run him over a mile and a six (furlongs) in the St Leger. You can’t be dogmatic and say he didn’t stay because he ground it out, but that was his class.

Pyledriver has enjoyed a fine season
Pyledriver has enjoyed a fine season (David Davies/PA)

“He wasn’t as effective because we took his gears and speed away from him. Martin (Dwyer) was sitting, waiting and having to hold him on to him when he wanted to kick.

“I’m not worried about the ground and the trip won’t be a problem. Straight after he won the Voltigeur (at York), the jockey went on TV and said he had the pace to win a Group One over a mile and a quarter.”

The trainer is already excited to see what his stable star can achieve next season, adding: “We’ve got loads to look forward to with this horse and, no matter what else, the boys (owners) have had a fantastic time.

“We’ve enjoyed every minute of it and we’ve got next year and the year after with him, when we will be looking at the big races all around the world.”

Grimthorpe salutes brilliance and longevity of Enable

Teddy Grimthorpe nominated Enable’s first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory as his personal highlight of the mare’s glittering career following her retirement on Monday.

Grimthorpe, who is the long-standing racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, was at ParisLongchamp just over a week ago when the John Gosden-trained six-year-old had to settle for sixth place in her quest for an unprecedented third Arc win, with the heavy French ground taking its toll.

Hopes had been raised of a swansong at Ascot on Champions Day when she appeared on the Newmarket gallops last week, but she will instead be retired and is booked in for a date with Kingman, who is also owned by Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms operation.

Enable won 15 of her 19 races with her 11 Group Ones including three King Georges, the English and Irish Oaks and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but Grimthorpe believes Chantilly in 2017 provided a special moment.

“I’ve been asked a few times in recent weeks what I think was her best ever performance. I think the Oaks was the first time that she blasted into the stratosphere,” said Grimthorpe.

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“It was a race run in record time through a thunderstorm and she finished five lengths clear of Rhododendron. That really set out her stall as a marker that she was above the average Group One horse.

“Her first two King Georges were special, it’s hard to separate the two, but for me her best performance was her first Arc at Chantilly.

“It was a superb ride by Frankie (Dettori) – he made a manoeuvre early which put her in a great spot so that coming around the bend, you could be pretty confident something good was going to happen.”

Enable (right) went head-to-head with Crystal Ocean down the Ascot straight
Enable (right) went head-to-head with Crystal Ocean down the Ascot straight (Julian Herbert/PA)

The 2019 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes produced a race for the ages, as Enable pipped Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean by a neck after a duel in the Ascot straight.

“Her second King George when she edged out Crystal Ocean was memorable,” said Grimthorpe.

“Depending on how old you are, the King George holds a special place and you remember certain battles – for me it’s Grundy and Bustino, but Enable and Crystal Ocean certainly had elements of that. It was a great tussle. Two great horses and two very good jockeys.

“She was also the first horse to win the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same season. That was the year she didn’t have her first run until September. To do that was pretty special, beating Magical again with the pair well clear.”

There is a tendency in racing to compare eras and while Enable’s record stands up to close scrutiny, an official rating of 128 sees her fall some way shy of fellow Abdullah runner Frankel, who retired with a mark of 140.

However, Grimthorpe does not believe her rating tells the whole story.

“Everyone always talks about ratings and while they are important, what people have to remember is what she gave to racing over five seasons – not many can look her in the eye there,” he said.

“The public following she garnered because of the way she kept coming back is special, but there are so many things that made her special.

“You shouldn’t say these words lightly, but it has been an honour and a privilege just to be around her – she’s meant so much for everyone at Juddmonte, Prince Khalid downwards, she’s given so much.”

Asked who would have come out on top between Enable and Frankel over 10 furlongs, Grimthorpe laughed and added: “We’ll never know!”