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Enable in a class of her own

Enable has to rank as a phenomenon in the annals of Turf history.

Her record in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – only once out of the first two in four consecutive appearances in Europe’s premier middle-distance contest – is second to none.

She must not be judged on her second failed bid to become the first horse to lift that coveted prize three times. Her sixth place on ground she hated and in a race that clearly was not run to suit, was the first time she had been out of the first three in her entire career.

Just think back to July when she made history by becoming the first horse to win Britain’s premier mile-and-a-half all-aged race, the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, three times.

It may be true few have been given the opportunity to keep on racing for so long, but that cannot simply be down to the best colts being retired to go on to a lucrative stallion career.

A horse’s soundness and constitution, plus priceless enthusiasm for training and racing, count for so much. Enable had all those assets in bucket loads.

Frankie Dettori and Enable were a perfect match
Frankie Dettori and Enable were a perfect match (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Unsurprisingly, therefore, very few thoroughbreds can boast her record of Group One triumphs in the UK, Ireland, France and the United States.

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Frankie Dettori, who rode her in the last 17 of her 19 career starts, summed it up when he said she has taken him to more places emotionally than any other horse. That speaks volumes.

Her undoubted talent and longevity meant the public took her to their hearts. Enable and Dettori – a household name for many years – were the perfect match. The brilliant jockey has never hidden his feelings about her.

Rarely do top-class Flat horses, certainly in Europe, have careers lasting three seasons, let alone five. For the John Gosden-trained daughter of Nathaniel to last that long is not only testament to the horse herself, but also the team that have looked after her so well.

Her owner Khalid Abdullah’s part has been a massive one, too, in having the sportsmanship in keeping her going, especially after she suffered an agonising defeat to Waldgeist when attempting an unprecedented hat-trick in the Arc 12 months ago.

Enable made history when claiming a third King George at Ascot
Enable made history when claiming a third King George at Ascot (Hugh Routledge/PA)

Abdullah has seen his colours carried by so many brilliant horses, such as Dancing Brave and Frankel.

The former won the Arc in 1986, but like all top colts, he was whisked off to stud at the end of his three-year-old campaign.

It has always seemed more likely that if a horse was to win three Arcs, it would be from the female division and Enable was only the second horse to try – the first was Treve five years ago.

The latter made a gallant attempt but had to settle for fourth place behind Golden Horn – ridden by Dettori and trained by Gosden.

Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the Oaks with Enable
Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the Oaks with Enable (Adam Davy/PA)

Enable was the eighth horse to win two Arcs, with the other seven including Ribot (1955-56) and Alleged (1977-78), in the Paris showpiece that was first run 100 years ago.

To win one Arc can be the pinnacle of a horse’s career and its swansong. Mill Reef (1971) and Sea The Stars (2009) capped campaigns at Longchamp in their Derby-winning year.

The mighty Sea Bird II (1965) was another never-to-be forgotten champion to score in Paris and win the hearts of racing fans, but briefly.

It is impossible to compare Enable to those brilliant colts, but equine females have made their mark in several countries around the globe.

Dancing Brave, another winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for Enable's owner Khalid Abdullah
Dancing Brave, another winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for Enable’s owner Khalid Abdullah (PA)

America had its own wonder filly in the last decade in Zenyatta, whose only defeat came in the last of her 20 races.

Australia has been blessed with two superstar mares in recent times. First there was Black Caviar. Not only did she have a 100 per cent record of 25 wins, but connections took the brave step of bringing her to the UK and it paid off with victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012.

Winx was the latest darling of the Southern Hemisphere with an amazing 33 consecutive victories in a career that spanned five years and finally ended in April 2019. No less than 25 of her wins came at the top level and over a variety of distances.

Enable can be spoken in the same breath as all the horses mentioned but, in her division, she stands alone and will forever be recognised as a true queen in the sport of kings.

Rouget pays tribute to retired Arc hero Sottsass

Jean-Claude Rouget believes the decision to retire Sottsass to stud so soon after his victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp is the right one.

The four-year-old colt ended the leading French trainer’s long wait to win the European middle-distance championship, 12 months on from his third placed finish behind Waldgeist and Enable.

He was able to better that on Sunday, emerging victorious from In Swoop and Persian King, with Enable back in sixth place.

Rouget admitted after the race he did not know if his star would be seen again and it emerged on Monday evening that the Siyouni colt – in whom Coolmore purchased a 50 per cent share in January – would not run at the Breeders’ Cup and had indeed been retired.

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“He’s a good looking horse with a good temperament, a classy horse and goes to stud in the best way after a great win in the Arc,” said Rouget.

“The decision has been made now as they want to protect him for a stallion career and I think it was best not to go to the Breeders’ Cup as the track would have been too sharp for him.

“He is quite a big horse with a big action. It would have been a risk.”

Rouget’s training is based on a long-term approach and it paid huge dividends with Sottsass.

“I go slowly with my horses. He was promising after he had a bad trip first time out,” he said.

“He won his second race easily. He had a bad race first time out at three and, after he won his Listed race easily, he won the Prix du Jockey Club.

“The Arc was the target this year. It was not easy with Covid to do good planning, but we do it and we did well.

Jean-Claude Rouget did a tremendous job with Sottsass
Jean-Claude Rouget did a tremendous job with Sottsass (Niall Carson/PA)

“I am very happy for him not to run again. He was a very courageous horse.”

Sottsass won six of his 12 career outings, including last year’s French Derby (Prix du Jockey Club) and the Prix Ganay in June this year, with his three top-level wins all coming in the hands of Cristian Demuro.

He travelled to Ireland in September, where he stayed on well at the end of the mile and a quarter to take fourth place behind Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Sottsass heading to stud after Arc success

Sottsass has been retired following his victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, according to reports in France.

The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained four-year-old was third in the European middle-distance championship 12 months ago and bettered that on Sunday, emerging victorious from In Swoop and Persian King, with Enable back in sixth place.

Rouget admitted after the race he did not know if his star would be seen again, and Jour de Galop reported on Twitter on Monday evening that the Siyouni colt – in whom Coolmore purchased a 50 per cent share in January – would not run at the Breeders’ Cup and had indeed been retired.

Rouget’s charge won six of his 12 career outings, including last year’s French Derby and the Prix Ganay in June this year, with his three top-level wins all coming in the hands of Cristian Demuro.

He travelled to Ireland in September, where he was fourth to Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, ridden on that occasion by Colin Keane.

The departure of Sottsass after the Arc mirrors that of last year’s winner, Waldgeist.

Enable beaten in Paris as Sottsass takes Arc glory

Enable could only finish sixth as Sottsass led home a clean sweep for French-trained runners in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

Third in the race 12 months ago, trainer Jean-Claude Rouget had stated that only one day mattered for the four-year-old this year and he proved trained to perfection.

For John Gosden’s Enable, chasing history with a third victory in the race, she was bogged down in the heavy ground and suffered interference when the pace quickened.

In contrast, Sottsass picked up smartly and stayed on well to beat In Swoop, with Persian King hanging on for third having made the running, just ahead of Gold Trip. Enable’s Gold Cup-winning stablemate Stradivarius was seventh.

As a result of the interference, a stewards’ inquiry was immediately called – but following a short deliberation, the placings remained unaltered.

While Enable did not manage to win a third Arc, she will still go down in history as one of the greatest racemares to have graced the sport.

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As well as her two wins in the Arc, she won the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot three times, the English and Irish Oaks and at the Breeders’ Cup.

Sottsass won the French Derby last season, but had failed to set the world alight this year. However, Rouget had been making increasingly confident noises in recent days and his colt had been well-backed.

Cristian Demuro enjoyed a perfect run through the early stages, just tracking Persian King with Frankie Dettori just a length behind the eventual winner.

When the pace quickened in the straight Dettori had Enable in the perfect position to strike, with Stradivarius on her outside, but she when she needed to quicken, the heavy ground meant she was unable to use her raking stride and she was beginning to send out distress signals when squeezed up.

In Swoop, the German Derby winner, was predictably strong at the finish, but Sottsass was always doing enough and held on by around half a length.

Cristian Demuro with Jean-Claude Rouget
Cristian Demuro with Jean-Claude Rouget (Francois Mori/AP Photo)

Rouget said: “Just after the race last year we thought he was a horse made for this race.

“Between the Ganay (in June) it was a long time. When we ran in Deauville (in August) he was a bit fat and and Skalleti is a very good horse. He is a Group One horse on soft ground, but we had to run in that race instead of going to York (Juddmonte International).

“The choice to go to Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes) was tough, too, and not the Foy. We chose to run him over a shorter distance to give him speed. I think that was a good choice.

“All was made to have the horse 100 per cent today. The result is there.

“The fact the (Aidan) O’Brien horses were not there was easier to understand how the pace will be. I was not surprised to see Persian King in front, because for him it was the best way because he did not pull – he ran a magnificent race at this distance because it was not his trip or his ground.

“We had a good draw to stay behind him and our horse stays the distance better than him.

“John Gosden is a good trainer and if I was beaten I wanted it to be by Enable because she is a super filly, but there is only one winner in the race.”

He added: “Sottsass is owned in association with Coolmore. I do not know if he will run again, but it is not the question for today.

“Whether the horse retires is not my decision.”

O’Brien horses withdrawn from Arc following positive samples

Aidan O’Brien’s four planned runners in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe have all been withdrawn from the race after positive urine samples indicated the presence of a banned substance from contaminated feed.

O’Brien was due to field Japan, Sovereign, Mogul and Serpentine against Enable at ParisLongchamp on Sunday, as John Gosden’s mare bids to win the great race for an unprecedented third time.

None of the quartet will, however, take part after it emerged late on Saturday evening that they have tested positive for a banned substance, believed to be zilpaterol – potentially from batches of feed supplied by Gain Equine Nutrition.

On Friday, the supplier confirmed that it is “investigating the potential presence of a contaminant in some batches of our equine feed range”.

The absence of O’Brien’s runners was announced via a Tweet on the official account of O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard.

It read: “Unfortunately the results of the urine samples taken from the horses yesterday have come back positive from the French laboratory.

“There is a possibility that the contaminant may have left their system by the time of racing tomorrow – however we have no guarantee of this, and in order to protect the integrity of racing we have decided to withdraw all our horses from racing tomorrow.

“Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien will do likewise.”

O’Brien’s two sons each had leading Group One contenders due to race on Sunday.

Donnacha’s Fancy Blue was declared in the Prix de l’Opera, while his older brother Joseph had Pretty Gorgeous in the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac.

Gosden ready for ‘slog’ as Enable bids for Arc history

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.

Enable following her Ascot win in July
Enable following her Ascot win in July (Steven Cargill/PA)

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.

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“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.

Stradivarius will be aiming to spoil the party for his stablemate
Stradivarius will be aiming to spoil the party for his stablemate (Edward Whitaker/PA)

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.”

Sottsass was impressive in last year's Prix du Jockey Club
Sottsass was impressive in last year’s Prix du Jockey Club (Scoopdyga)

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.”

Proud Grimthorpe hoping to see Enable sign off in style

Teddy Grimthorpe has highlighted the skill of John Gosden and his team in ensuring Enable arrives in Paris for a fourth successive year in peak condition on Sunday.

Is it rare for a top-class Flat horse to remain in training as a six-year-old, especially a mare – but owner Khalid Abdullah made a sporting decision to keep Enable in training this season having come so agonisingly close to racing history 12 months ago.

As no horse has ever won Europe’s premier race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, three times, the sportsman in Abdullah came to the fore and he delayed the decision to retire Enable to have one more shot at immortality.

“In races like this, it’s such a monumental day you cannot discount any horse – it never turns out how you think it is going to,” said Grimthorpe, Abdullah’s long-standing racing manager.

“We just have to concentrate on her and Frankie (Dettori) is the best man to have.

“Just to even run in the race four times – given how difficult it is to get to a particular race on a particular day – to do it four years in a row, without pre-empting as she hasn’t lined up yet, but all being well to run in four Arcs, it is a tremendous feat by John and everyone at Clarehaven.”

Win or lose this weekend, Grimthorpe does not think there is much more Enable could have achieved with three King Georges, two Arcs, the English and Irish Oaks and a Breeders’ Cup among her 15 victories.

Frankie Dettori returns on Enable after winning a third King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier this season
Frankie Dettori returns on Enable after winning a third King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier this season (Dan Abraham/PA)

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“She had a really busy three-year-old campaign, missed the first half of her four-year-old season but went and won at the Breeders’ Cup after a second Arc,” said Grimthorpe.

“Obviously we are very biased and everyone has opinions about everything, but the only thing I would say is that her CV stands up to the closest scrutiny.

“The amount of Group One winners she has beaten in her career is staggering and we couldn’t have asked any more of her really.”

Not surprisingly, Gosden fears the testing ground could slow Enable down in the final few strides – just as it did last year when Waldgeist reeled her in.

Speaking to talkSPORT2, Gosden said: “She’s in very good form, we’ve designed the whole season around this day. She won a King George then had a prep at Kempton so she’s ready for this.

“Everyone is concerned about the ground, it could be for specialists, but we’ve planned this for a year.

“She handles cut in the ground, but her best races have been on good to soft. Last year it was testing and it found her out in the last 100 yards. Possibly our jockey might be a bit more patient this time. It’s the same for everyone, but it will suit some more than others.

“I’ll leave tactics up to Frankie, though, he’s ridden in 30 Arcs so it’s pointless me telling him want to do. He’ll ride it how he feels it.”

Stradivarius was in a different league to his rivals in the Gold Cup in June
Stradivarius was in a different league to his rivals in the Gold Cup in June (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Asked how he would feel if Stradivarius came to beat Enable, Gosden replied: “You must let every horse take its chance, the owner/breeder Bjorn Nielsen has been keen to run and there’s a history of good stayers running well in the Arc.

“In the conditions it will bring his stamina into play. Even he might find the ground a bit much, though – although we thought for years he wanted top of the ground and he won an Ascot Gold Cup by 10 lengths on soft.

“This is a different ball game but if he doesn’t sink in too far, he doesn’t have the biggest of feet, he’s capable of a big performance.”

Mogul won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood earlier this year
Mogul won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood earlier this year (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Aidan O’Brien is another who must be cursing the weather gods and he felt the ground could be so bad he even took out Love, who had been favourite since July.

Nevertheless, he still runs four, including Grand Prix de Paris winner Mogul and Serpentine, shock winner of the Derby in June. Japan and Sovereign are the other representatives for Ballydoyle.

“We were delighted with Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris and we felt he was slowly starting to come right,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing.

“We’d always ridden him fairly close to the pace, but he’d always shown a lot of speed in his work so we decided last time to ride him for speed and Pierre-Charles (Boudot) gave him a beautiful ride and we got a great result, we’ve been happy since. The ground won’t be ideal but his brother, Japan, handles an ease.

“We think Japan will improve from the Irish Champion but we were a little disappointed. A mile and a half will suit him better.

“Christophe (Soumillon) was happy with Serpentine (behind Mogul), he’d had a big break after Epsom. We went to France using it as a prep for the Arc which Christophe knew.

“He’ll go forward, he doesn’t have to lead but he will if no one else wants, he’s uncomplicated. He’s drawn wide (15), but Christophe knows the horse well.

“Sovereign should be suited by the tempo of a mile and a half rather than the Irish Leger last time.”

Dettori willing Enable on for historic day in Paris

Frankie Dettori is already recognised as one of horse racing’s all-time greats – and on Sunday he will bid to help Enable achieve a similar status with an unprecedented third Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe success.

Having come within a length and three-quarters of steering the John Gosden-trained mare to a record-breaking third victory in the Group One showpiece 12 months ago, the ever-popular Italian will be out to make amends at ParisLongchamp in what is likely to be her swansong.

Though the daughter of Nathaniel has a CV that is far superior to any other horse Dettori has ridden throughout his career, he believes only a win in the mile-and-a-half feature at the weekend will cement her place among the very best to have graced the annals of the Turf.

He said: “She is by far the best horse in terms of CVs that I’ve ridden. When you think of the likes of Fantastic Light and Daylami, I only won five Group One races on them and she has won 11. She has nearly doubled the Group One tally of any other horse I’ve ridden.

“For me, if I can win the third Arc, it is all for her. I will work hard to try to achieve that for her as I want her to be remembered as one of the all-time greats. She can only be called that if she wins a third Arc.

“She came so close last year and we will now roll the dice again.”

Riding an equine superstar like Enable comes with an added level of pressure, but despite the potential reward on offer, the 49-year-old feels more comfortable with the situation he finds himself in compared to the one he faced last year.

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Dettori said: “I actually don’t feel as nervous, as last year we were going for three in a row. Now that she has been beaten in the race last year, it takes a bit of pressure off.

“We know exactly how hard it is to win it. We are under no illusions – it’s going to be tough.

“It took a while to get over it last year as we came so close and I was still in front with 100 yards to go. You always analyse what you could have done better, as does any sportsman, but that is gone now and we have to think forward.

“This year there will only be 1,000 people there so you are not going to get the same atmosphere, but we will still try to make history, however I do feel calmer than last year.”

Enable warmed up for Sunday with victory at Kempton last month
Enable warmed up for Sunday with victory at Kempton last month (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Enable has shown no signs of her form deteriorating this season after bouncing back from defeat in the Eclipse at Sandown on her return to become the first three-time winner of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.

Having warmed up with victory in the same Kempton Group Three she took in en route to her 2018 Arc success, Dettori feels Enable is in the right place ahead of her date with destiny.

He added: “She has taken a lot longer to get her where we wanted in the summer. She has stayed in training for one reason and one reason only, and that is for a third win in the Arc.

“Everything has been about working backwards from the Arc. She picked up a third King George along the way which was great, as that was another record. I think John has got Enable in the best condition he can. I think we have her where we want her.”

Dettori ranks stablemate Stradivarius as Enable's main rival
Dettori ranks stablemate Stradivarius as Enable’s main rival (Dan Abraham/PA)

Assessing those set to take their chance against Enable in the French capital, the three-times champion jockey expects the biggest challenge to come from her stablemate, and triple Ascot Gold Cup hero, Stradivarius.

He said: “There is a lot of rain forecast at the moment and it depends how much we get. For sure it will be soft and it could be the extreme of very soft. That would put stamina into the equation and Stradivarius could come into the picture.

“He bolted up in the Ascot Gold Cup on soft ground and he is doing really well at the moment, so he would be a big threat which we have to respect

“Enable is in a good frame of mind, though. She is aggressive at home, which is always a good sign with her. She seems in a good place.”

Given the affection Dettori has for Enable, it seems hard to believe he overlooked her in favour of then stablemate Shutter Speed on her first start at three in a conditions race at Newbury. But he explains at the time it was an easy decision to make.

He said: “Shutter Speed was a good work horse. It turned out that Enable is a different horse on the track and the rest is history really. It was an easy decision to make at the time, the way the two horses were working.

“It is amazing how work in the morning and performances in the afternoon can be so different. It is not just Enable who is like that. Palace Pier is the same and you wouldn’t know he is in the yard in the mornings. Some horses need different environments to make them tick and Enable is like that.”

Enable will always have a special place in Dettori's heart
Enable will always have a special place in Dettori’s heart (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Whatever result Enable achieves in the Arc, an outpouring of emotion from Dettori is assured – but for now his focus is on the task ahead and not what awaits in the aftermath.

He said: “It will be emotional on Sunday. At the moment I’m keeping strong. I’ve been there in the same position before, but at the moment it is about focusing on getting the lead up over and done with and making sure everything goes smoothly before getting my leg aboard her in the race. All my emotions will spill out afterwards.

“There will be excitement on the day, but I want to try to enjoy the moment and let the story all unfold.”

Ground concerns lead to Love missing Arc showdown with Enable

Love has been taken out of Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe following the final forfeit stage.

Aidan O’Brien had warned the dual Classic heroine would not be at home on the predicted very soft ground and has taken the decision to withdraw her.

The Galileo filly was the only withdrawal on Thursday morning, with the John Gosden-trained Enable standing tall against 14 rivals.

O’Brien told the PA news agency: “We had to make the decision today because there was no other stage after this.

“If Ryan (Moore) was declared to ride her he then couldn’t ride anything else (if Love was later taken out), so we had to make the decision today.

“It’s 4.1 on the penetrometer at the moment and there is a lot of rain forecast, it could get to 4.5 so we had to make a choice.

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“Sadly I don’t think there’s any prospect of the ground improving much.”

Mogul will be the mount of Ryan Moore in the Arc
Mogul will be the mount of Ryan Moore in the Arc (Dan Abraham/PA)

O’Brien is still represented by Derby hero Serpentine, who was supplemented on Wednesday at a cost of €72,000, Sovereign, Japan and Mogul – winner of the Grand Prix de Paris and who will be ridden by Moore.

The Ballydoyle handler is unsure how his other runners will handle the testing ground.

“We just don’t know how the others will go on it. When the ground gets that soft you just can’t predict,” he said.

“It’s a shame the ground has gone like that, but that is the way it goes, nobody can control it.”

Enable – seeking an unprecedented hat-trick of Arc victories – is one of two contenders for Gosden along with Ascot Gold Cup winner Stradivarius.

Enable will break from stall five
Enable will break from stall five (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Frankie Dettori had been hoping for a draw between one and eight and he will be happy to leave from stall five, having broken from stall six in 2018 and two in 2017.

However, stablemate Stradivarius will have to defy stall 14 – just like Golden Horn did in 2015.

Of O’Brien’s contenders, Mogul drew stall three, Japan (Yutaka Take) is in 11, Serpentine (Christophe Soumillon) 15 and Sovereign (Mikael Barzalona) in 10.

Andre Fabre’s Persian King is in seven, with Jean-Claude Rouget’s Sottsass, who was third last year, in four.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing later in the morning, O’Brien pointed to the Breeders’ Cup for Love – and confirmed she is set to stay in training as a four-year-old.

“It would be unusual if the ground came up good on Champions Day (at Ascot), it is usually soft or heavy so it would be wrong to carry on with her for another two weeks and then the same thing happen,” he said.

“So we’ll give her a little time now and give her a nice run in the Breeders’ Cup.

“The plan is to have her in training next year, so that’s something to look forward to.”

O’Brien sounds Arc ground warning for Love

Aidan O’Brien has raised doubts about the participation of Love in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, amid the prospect of significantly testing conditions in Paris on Sunday.

The Galileo filly has carried all before her this season, claiming the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket before adding the Oaks at Epsom and Yorkshire Oaks at York.

She has been aimed at the Arc since her victory on the Knavesmire in August – and with it an eagerly-anticipated showdown with the John Gosden-trained Enable, who is looking to make history as the first horse to win the Arc three times.

But with the going reported to be very soft and an unsettled forecast before the weekend, O’Brien told the Daily Mirror: “When you start getting into extremes – especially when you start talking about heavy ground in France – we have to be realistic.

“We have to make a decision at 9.30am on Friday. Nothing is on or off until we believe things are right.”

Love showed all her class in the Oaks
Love showed all her class in the Oaks (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Frankie Dettori, meanwhile, insists the pressure is off as he prepares to bid for racing history again aboard Enable – 12 months on from what he describes as the worst disappointment of his career.

The brilliant mare will face a maximum of 15 rivals, after O’Brien’s Derby hero Serpentine was the only further entry at Wednesday’s supplementary stage.

Enable failed to complete an unprecedented Arc hat-trick last year, having to settle for second when agonisingly reeled in on rain-softened ground by Waldgeist deep inside the final furlong.

But as the Italian jockey prepares to try again, against a field set to contain Gosden’s own three-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Stradivarius, he explains last year’s deflating experience is helping to keep him calm.

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“We have already achieved something historic by winning the King George for a third time,” he said, reflecting on the six-year-old’s successful 2020 campaign to date.

“Frankly, the pressure involved is less than last year, and it’s not because there will be fewer people in Paris (during Covid-19 crowd restrictions).

“It’s because we have already experienced disappointment. The three hours which followed last year’s defeat were the worst in my entire professional career, and I think that Enable was similarly downcast.”

As for the task ahead this time, Dettori – speaking before concerns about Love’s participation emerged – is mindful again of the challenge of anticipated soft ground – and respectful of the opposition.

“I’m praying that we will get drawn somewhere between one and eight,” he said.

“Rain is forecast, and the ground will most likely be heavy (but) I hope that we won’t experience extremes of going, as happened last year.

“There are two horses that like to go to the front – Serpentine and Sovereign.

“So taking up a good position will be ‘de rigueur’.

“The ground is a very important factor, and Enable has already shown that she can handle it.

“It’s a big plus – a bit like the (7lb) filly’s allowance that Love will be receiving.

“She will be coming into the Arc de Triomphe a bit like Enable did as a three-year-old, but having trodden a different path.”

Dettori predicts ground conditions will play a major part in everyone’s tactics, and may not in particular be to Love’s advantage.

“I hold her in high esteem, like everyone else,” he added.

“I have spoken with my colleagues and racing analysts – they say that a heavy track could count against Love, because her low-to-the-ground, fast action is better suited to good ground.

“Genuine heavy ground will turn the Arc into a stamina test – that will play to Stradivarius’ strengths – and, on the contrary, the distance may prove a bit long for Persian King, although anything trained by Andre Fabre warrants respect.

Stradivarius will relish a stamina test at ParisLongchamp
Stradivarius will relish a stamina test at ParisLongchamp (Dan Abraham/PA)

“There are other horses which shouldn’t be underestimated (too), such as Sottsass. He hasn’t had a hard campaign and boasts prior experience in the Arc de Triomphe (in third last year).”

O’Brien added Serpentine to his team at a cost of 72,000 euros, after being pleased with his first run since his runaway triumph at Epsom.

Serpentine blew away the cobwebs on his first public outing for 71 days when fourth to stablemate Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris over the Arc course and distance two and a half weeks ago.

Mogul, Japan and Sovereign complete the Ballydoyle trainer’s raiding party.

Fabre is the leading Arc trainer with eight victories and he looks to a ninth with Persian King, who will be stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time.

He won the Prix du Moulin from Pinatubo over a mile on his latest start, and it has been announced Persian King will stand at the Haras D’Etreham Stud next year.

Other leading fancies include two more home hopes, In Swoop and Raabihah.

Arc reverse of 12 months ago keeping Dettori grounded

Frankie Dettori insists the pressure is off as he prepares to bid for racing history again aboard Enable in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – 12 months on from what he describes as the worst disappointment of his career.

John Gosden’s brilliant mare will face a maximum of 15 opponents at ParisLongchamp, after Aidan O’Brien’s Investec Derby hero Serpentine was the only further entry at Wednesday’s supplementary stage.

Enable failed to complete an unprecedented Arc hat-trick last year, having to settle for second when agonisingly reeled in on rain-softened ground by Waldgeist deep inside the final furlong.

But as the Italian jockey prepares to try again on Sunday, against a field set to contain O’Brien’s dual Classic-winning filly Love and Gosden’s own three-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Stradivarius, he explains last year’s deflating experience is helping to keep him calm.

“We have already achieved something historic by winning the King George for a third time,” he said, reflecting on the six-year-old’s successful 2020 campaign to date.

“Frankly, the pressure involved is less than last year, and it’s not because there will be fewer people in Paris (during Covid-19 crowd restrictions).

“It’s because we have already experienced disappointment. The three hours which followed last year’s defeat were the worst in my entire professional career, and I think that Enable was similarly downcast.”

As for the task ahead this time, Dettori is mindful again of the challenge of anticipated soft ground – and respectful of the opposition.

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“I’m praying that we will get drawn somewhere between one and eight,” he said.

“Rain is forecast, and the ground will most likely be heavy (but) I hope that we won’t experience extremes of going, as happened last year.

“There are two horses that like to go to the front – Serpentine and Sovereign.

“So taking up a good position will be ‘de rigueur’.

“The ground is a very important factor, and Enable has already shown that she can handle it.

“It’s a big plus – a bit like the (7lb) filly’s allowance that Love will be receiving.

Dual Classic winner Love is set to be among Enable's opponents
Dual Classic winner Love is set to be among Enable’s opponents (David Davies/PA)

“She will be coming into the Arc de Triomphe a bit like Enable did as a three-year-old, but having trodden a different path.”

Dettori predicts ground conditions will play a major part in everyone’s tactics, and may not in particular be to Love’s advantage.

“I hold her in high esteem, like everyone else,” he added.

“I have spoken with my colleagues and racing analysts – they say that a heavy track could count against Love, because her low-to-the-ground, fast action is better suited to good ground.

“Genuine heavy ground will turn the Arc into a stamina test – that will play to Stradivarius’ strengths – and, on the contrary, the distance may prove a bit long for Persian King, although anything trained by Andre Fabre warrants respect.

Stradivarius will relish a stamina test at ParisLongchamp
Stradivarius will relish a stamina test at ParisLongchamp (Dan Abraham/PA)

“There are other horses which shouldn’t be underestimated (too), such as Sottsass. He hasn’t had a hard campaign and boasts prior experience in the Arc de Triomphe (in third last year).”

O’Brien added Serpentine to his team at a cost of 72,000 euros, after being pleased with his first run since his runaway triumph at Epsom.

Serpentine blew away the cobwebs on his first public outing for 71 days when fourth to stablemate Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris over the Arc course and distance two and a half weeks ago.

Mogul, Japan, Sovereign and Love complete the Ballydoyle trainer’s raiding party.

Fabre is the leading Arc trainer with eight victories and he looks to a ninth with Persian King, who will be stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time.

He won the Prix du Moulin from Pinatubo over a mile on his latest start, and it has been announced Persian King will stand at the Haras D’Etreham Stud next year.

Other leading fancies include two more home hopes, In Swoop and Raabihah.

A further 0.9 millimetres of rain fell at the track in the last 24 hours, making a total of 14.4mm so far this week, with the going reported to be very soft and an unsettled forecast before the weekend.

Peter Brant backing Sottsass to play leading role in Arc

Owner Peter Brant will look to Sottsass to realise his dream of winning the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

Triptych finished third in two Arcs for Brant back in the 1980s and it falls to the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Sottsass to carry his hopes again this year.

The four-year-old came close to victory when third last year, and American industrialist Brant – who is steeped in racing history as both an owner and breeder – remains just as eager as ever for glory in the 12-furlong Group One showpiece.

He told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “I can only say of any race in the world, I would most like to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, mostly because it’s kind of the European championship in many ways.

“It’s the classic distance of a mile and a half and it really involves three or four years of horses, which means that you’re really going through light years to heavy years on talent and it’s a much difficult kind of race to win.”

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Sottsass arguably had more obvious claims last term, having won the Prix du Jockey Club and Prix Niel on his way to the big day, while this term he has won just one of his four outings, taking the Prix Ganay at Chantilly in June.

The Siyouni colt was last seen finishing two lengths behind Magical when fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes, but Brant – who has owned and bred Kentucky Derby winners and has engaged again with the sport in recent years – believes Rouget will have his runner primed for what has been the ultimate target.

He said: “I think he’s a really superior horse, no doubt. He won the French Derby impressively and won his race before that very impressively.

“He’s won on all different kinds of grounds – soft and firm. I think he broke the track record for the French Derby and he won impressively beating Persian King, who’s proven himself to be a very good horse.

“It’s a very good field and I think he’s an excellent horse.

“I think Jean-Claude Rouget has really pointed the horse to this race and as he does many times, he picks a spot that he’s going to run to.

“He’s a very sound horse, I don’t think he’s been overtrained or undertrained and I think he goes to the race well.”

France Galop reported at total of 14.4 millimetres of rain had fallen this week at ParisLongchamp up to Wednesday morning, leaving the ground very soft.

It was very soft when Sottsass was beaten by both Waldgeist and the reopposing Enable last year year, and Brant feels the ground offers an unknown factor.

He added: “This kind of ground, you never know who’s going to like it or not – it depends how much it rains. It could be good to soft which would be fine, or it could be really soft.

“Last year the grass was a bit new and it wasn’t a really good course to run on. I think Enable suffered running on that course, but there were great horses in the race and it was a great race.”

Derby hero Serpentine added to Aidan O’Brien’s Arc team

Serpentine is the only supplementary entry for Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as 16 remain in Europe’s premier middle-distance race at ParisLongchamp.

Aidan O’Brien added the Investec Derby victor to his team at a cost of 72,000 euros after being pleased with his first run since his runaway triumph at Epsom.

Serpentine blew away the cobwebs on his first public outing for 71 days when fourth to stablemate Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris over the Arc course and distance two and a half weeks ago.

Mogul, Japan, Sovereign and dual Classic-winner Love complete the Ballydoyle trainer’s raiding party.

Andre Fabre is the leading Arc trainer with eight victories and he looks to a ninth with Persian King, who will be stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time.

He won the Prix du Moulin from Pinatubo over a mile on his latest start and it has been announced Persian King will stand at the Haras D’Etreham Stud next year.

Other leading fancies heading to Paris include John Gosden’s pair of dual Arc heroine Enable and champion stayer Stradivarius plus local hopes Sottsass, In Swoop and Raabihah.

A further 0.9 millimetres of rain fell at the track in the last 24 hours, making a total of 14.4mm so far this week, with the going reported to be very soft and an unsettled forecast ahead of the weekend.

Gosden full of hope ahead of Enable’s date with destiny

John Gosden is confident Enable is “ready to put in a big, bold effort” as she bids again for a historic third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

The brilliant mare suffered just the second of only three career defeats in 18 starts 12 months ago when she was agonisingly caught deep in the final furlong by Waldgeist on rain-softened ground, as she sought an unprecedented hat-trick in the great race.

After owner Khalid Abdullah chose to keep her in training as a six-year-old for another shot at the Arc, Gosden has been clear throughout that this Sunday is the date that matters above all for her and jockey Frankie Dettori.

He is mindful of tough opposition, headed by Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic-winning filly Love and including his own three-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Stradivarius, in a field of 15 following Tuesday’s forfeit stage – with the possibility of supplementary entries on Wednesday.

Enable has once more won the King George at Ascot
Enable has once more won the King George at Ascot (Hugh Routledge/PA)

Gosden is satisfied, however, that he has Enable in the right shape – having begun her campaign by finishing second to Ghaiyyath in the Eclipse at Sandown and then winning Ascot’s King George and the September Stakes at Kempton, as she did en route to Paris two years ago.

Assessing her season so far, he said on Paddy Power’s podcast From The Horse’s Mouth: “I think she’s found it more difficult – she’s older and bigger and heavier, and getting to race fitness.

“I went gently at it – it was a struggle, though, and when I ran her in the Eclipse, I was very clear with everyone beforehand that the race would put her right.

“She went there at 80 per cent, and the race did put her right – she went and won the King George.

“She’s been in good form since – she had a nice breeze round in the September Stakes, nothing too taxing for her because the Arc has been the target all year.”

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Enable did everything that was asked of her in the September Stakes
Enable did everything that was asked of her in the September Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Unlike two years ago, there have been no hitches since then.

Gosden added: “She’s happy and well in herself – Frankie breezed her on the round gallop on the Limekilns on Saturday and he was very pleased with her.

“It’s still a few days to go – and she’s ready to put in a big, bold effort.

“We’re perfectly aware how tough the race is, and we’re perfectly aware how tough the opposition is.”

With age, Gosden acknowledges, the task facing Enable is a different one.

“I think she was overwhelmingly the best as a three-year-old, getting the weight in her first Arc,” he said.

“The second Arc, she struggled, had an injury, came back (and) won in the September Stakes, then got sick and then went to the Arc.

“She’d missed some work but she hung in there – and last year she ran a blinder.

“I think we all went a stride (too) quick and all moved a little bit soon for the conditions – let’s hope we can go one better this year.

“But we’re totally aware that (with) the favourite (Love, who has drifted to second-favourite behind Enable) getting all the weight, it’s a mighty task giving that weight.

“Having said that, we benefited from it when we were a three-year-old winning the Arc, so we can’t exactly complain now!”

Gosden’s unbeaten 2019 St Leger winner Logician has been taken out of the Arc, and will instead head to Ascot’s Group Two Cumberland Lodge Stakes on Saturday.

Super stayer Stradivarius remains on course to test himself against Europe’s best middle-distance horses, though, having pleased his trainer when runner-up in the Prix Foy.

Encouraged by that performance, Gosden said: “I thought for a horse who’s a Gold Cup winner, he showed great acceleration in the straight – going down by half a neck to Anthony Van Dyck, who seems to have found his form again.

“I thought it was a very good trial from both of them – and the horses behind, the French horses, could never get to them.”

Stradivarius left the opposition toiling in the Gold Cup at Ascot
Stradivarius left the opposition toiling in the Gold Cup at Ascot (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Stradivarius has since been in fine form at home, and Gosden is no longer concerned about the prospect of soft ground.

“I’m very happy with him – he worked well on Saturday, with Rab Havlin on board, and he’s all ready to go,” he said.

“We’ve always thought of him as a top-of-the-ground horse, but he did somewhat surprise us in the Ascot Gold Cup this year.

“So we slightly revised our viewpoint – it seems that he handles most ground.”

Conditions have counted against a European adventure for Logician at this stage, however.

Gosden said: “I think the way the ground’s gone, at the moment I don’t want to put him through that kind of test right now, so he will run in the Cumberland Lodge at Ascot on Saturday.”

Telecaster to miss Arc after setback

Telecaster has been taken out of Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after a late setback.

His absence is a huge blow to connections, given the son of New Approach seemed assured to have his favoured soft conditions. Following a further 3.5 millimetres of rain overnight, the ground is described as very soft – with a penetrometer reading of 4.0 and further rain forecast through the week.

Trained by Hughie Morrison, Telecaster won the Dante last year – beating Too Darn Hot – but he arguably put up a career-best display last time out when winning the Grand Prix de Deauville by six and a half lengths.

It was his second win in France this year, following a Group Three success at ParisLongchamp in June.

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Mark Weinfeld, of owners Castle Down Stud, said: “It’s a real shame, but this is what can happen with horses – he’s just wasn’t 100 per cent sound this morning.

“We’re absolutely gutted. It’s nothing too serious, but it’s just sod’s law.

“He’s in the Champion Stakes at Ascot – and as I haven’t heard what the vet has said, I’m not sure if he’ll make that or not. We just need to know what the problem is.

“It would be nice if he made Ascot, because that is likely to be soft ground too. It’s rather deflated the week, though.”

Looking further ahead, Weinfeld added: “I think he’ll probably stay in training next year.

“I was hoping we’d have had a good offer from a stud by now – but nothing has come yet, so we could continue next year and hope for a wet year.

“We’re all very disappointed. But the horse is in one piece, and we live to fight another day.”

At Tuesday’s forfeit stage the field was reduced from 22 to 15 – although Aidan O’Brien is expected to supplement Derby winner Serpentine on Wednesday.

As well as Telecaster, also taken out were John Gosden’s Logician and the five Joseph O’Brien-trained entries – Buckhurst, Crossfirehurricane, Thames River, Degraves and New York Girl.

The market leaders all remain – including Enable, bidding for a historic third win in the great race, and Love.