Arc de Triomphe preview: Matt Brocklebank on the five key ingredients which make Enable great

Frankie Dettori celebrates aboard Enable
Frankie Dettori celebrates aboard Enable

Enable has already made history by becoming the first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner to follow up at the Breeders’ Cup, but Sunday would take her legacy to another level.

With all due respect to the Breeders’ Cup Turf – dating back to 1984 – the Arc began in 1920 and we're still yet to see the same horse win three times.

We could be waiting another hundred years for the next should everything go to plan this weekend.

So what makes Enable so great? What makes this mare stand out from the rest?

Matt Brocklebank dives into the mechanics of what lies beneath the bonnet of the best middle-distance horse in the world.

Jockey

Frankie Dettori has become increasingly emotional when talking about Enable’s achievements that you begin to wonder if he’ll have the same desire to carrying on riding once her career is over.

Talk of Dettori’s retirement has come and gone a couple of times down the years and he’s riding right at the top of his game with supreme confidence aged 48.

He’s spoken in the past of wanting to carry on until he’s 50, while back in May this year he went on record stating that to ride against his teenage son, Rocco, was another ambition he was left with.

But Frankie isn’t the sort of rider who will give the racing world much notice and it’ll be fascinating to see his reaction if successfully steering his pride and joy to victory this weekend.

He’s never lost on Enable – a perfect 12 from 12 – and he’s the current winning-most Arc jockey with six sensational victories already on what is a truly unrivalled CV.

It would be the perfect send-off, a la Ruby Walsh on Kemboy at the Punchestown Festival back in April, but Dettori will always have a lot to look forward to as long as he continues to ride for John Gosden and in Logician he might just have a ready-made replacement for the 2020 campaign.

Frankie Dettori celebrates
Frankie Dettori celebrates

Pedigree

‘Breed the best to the best and hope for the best’, as the old adage goes.

Enable’s pedigree didn’t look absolutely knockout at the time of her conception but she’s gone a hell of a way to putting Nathaniel on the map as a sire and there’s no getting away from the fact she hails from a good Juddmonte family.

Her dam Concentric, a daughter of the great Sadler’s Wells, was a Listed winner in France during her racing days. She’s a full sister to Group Two winner Dance Routine, who is out of a Group Three-winning mare, and whose own progeny includes Flintshire, a top-class scorer in America.

A hefty amount of luck is involved in finding a champion but there are stacks of winners in Enable’s bloodline and that sheer will to get home first has been passed down the generations.

Nathaniel - sire of Enable
Nathaniel - sire of Enable

Versatility

One significant factor in winning the Arc de Triomphe is the draw and the shape of the race.

Roll back 12 months and recall how the sadly ill-fated Sea Of Class had to duck and weave her way through before laying down a late challenge from the back.

There was little else James Doyle could do on his proven hold-up performer, especially given how wide she was drawn, but being tactically versatile puts you in a much stronger position than having to rely on the gaps appearing at the right time.

In her first few racecourse appearances, a keen-going Enable was held onto in a bid to try and teach her to settle, but Dettori has learnt that he can essentially put her anywhere in a race and still get the same result. His early move from a tricky-looking stall two when the Arc was run at Chantilly in 2017 still goes down as one of his finest moments.

Since then a prominent pitch has been preferred and Dettori was more than happy to get on with it in the Yorkshire Oaks last time, utilising her huge engine to beat Magical once again.

He’ll no doubt be looking to take the sting out of Japan and Sottsass early in the straight on Sunday and while Enable is unlikely to make her own running this time, she won’t be too far off the pace granted a reasonable draw.

She was unable to dictate and became trapped wide in this year’s King George but did still managed to get the job done.

Getting the job done in the biggest races - it’s what she’s done for three seasons, and now onto the perfect platform for the perfect send-off.

Enable beats Crystal Ocean to the King George
Enable beats Crystal Ocean to the King George

Trainer

Andre Fabre bossed the Arc de Triomphe in the late 80s, 90s and early noughties, but the French master hasn’t won his country’s premier race since Rail Link stunned thousands of Japanese fans rooting for Deep Impact in 2006.

Since then we’ve seen two wins apiece for Aidan O’Brien (Dylan Thomas and Found) and Criquette Head (Treve x2), and three for John Gosden, all of which have come in the past four years.

Gosden’s career spans many decades, several jurisdictions and any number of horses to have come through his hands.

He took out his first trainer’s licence in 1979 in California, having served as assistant to Tommy Doyle, Noel Murless and the great Vincent O’Brien before that, but only within the past 10 years has he firmly established himself as the very best in Britain.

Gosden first won the British Flat trainers’ championship in 2012 and he’s on course for a fourth title this season when his posse of middle-distance performers has never seemed stronger.

Just look at the horses he could have run in Sunday’s Arc: Star Catcher, Anapurna, Mehdaayih, Logician, Stradivarius.

In many ways the race is weaker without them, but why would Enable’s trainer spend any time and effort saddling something capable of denying her?

Gosden has been meticulous with his mare from the very beginning of her career and Enable is a character that has evidently thrived under his guidance – it’s clear that she won’t be the last.

John Gosden and Frankie Dettori - more to celebrate
John Gosden and Frankie Dettori

Attitude

On the subject of character, racehorses simply don’t win Group Ones without the mental resolve to match their physical talent, let alone 10 straight. Enable has bags of it.

She’s said to know her mind, like so many of the great racemares down the years, and if you’d seen her in the saddling area prior to last month’s Yorkshire Oaks you’d know the fire still burns bright within.

After booting her box and sending a bucket of water flying, she took a pretty tight grip during her time in the paddock and resembled a coiled spring before immediately clicking into ‘game mode’ on the way to post.

It could be argued the pre-race ferocity on the Knavesmire may have been a result of Enable recalling a tough race against Crystal Ocean in the King George at Ascot, but she showed no signs of that being the case during the Yorkshire Oaks itself.

The timing of that race means she goes into the Arc following a lovely six-week break and as far as attitude goes she’s reportedly on great terms with herself ahead of the big day.

It all begs the question: could we see her race on as a six-year-old?

John Gosden congratulates Frankie Dettori after he partnered Enable to victory in the Arc
John Gosden congratulates Frankie Dettori after he partnered Enable to victory in the Arc


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