Written by Jake Green
A week last Sunday, as the grey clouds swirled above Paris Lonchamp, a 4-year-old filly awoke in her temporary accommodation, facing the chance to make history.
Enable, John Gosden’s current super horse, had vanquished virtually all that have stood before her, with just one loss on her record. Racing over trips ranging from 1 mile up until 1 mile 4 furlongs and enduring all manner of going and surfaces, she has proved herself to be one of the most versatile and talented horses to ever participate in the sport of kings.
Yet, after a year of badly affected preparations, with just 1 race under her belt on the all-weather surface, Enable took her chance in the most highly contested race on the European calendar. The Arc De Triomphe.
Having already won the race last year in devastating fashion, the temptation for John Gosden to run his filly and stamp her name in the history book proved irresistible. Starting as Even money favourite, Enable wasn’t the fastest from the stalls but recovered well to sit just behind the pacemakers. Taking a keen hold through the early stages, her jockey, the legendary Frankie Dettori, had to use all his experience and skill to keep her switched off and on an even keel.
As the race started to unfold and the horses swung into the home straight, Dettori was keen to use his handy position and ensure Enable got a clear, early run on the field. Using the legendary acceleration that has propelled her to 5 previous group 1 wins, Enable was able to burst clear of the field by 3 lengths as she entered the final 200 meters. However, Race second favourite and chief rival, Sea Of Class, began to mount a huge late effort down the outside after experiencing a good deal of trouble in running. With 50 meters to go Enable still found herself with a length and a half lead, being cut into with every stride from the hold up performer Sea Of Class, but was just able to hold on in a desperate lunge to the line.
With the official winning distance just a short neck and the 2nd placed horse encountering so much traffic, many critics will suggest that Enable was lucky to become just the 8th horse in history to win 2 Arc’s and just the 3rd filly to do so. However, it must be acknowledged that Enable arrived having raced just once this season. That was in a 4-horse race on the polytrack at Kempton, where she had to make her own running. Sea Of Class, in contrast, had a much smoother campaign throughout the year, racing 5 times prior to the Arc. She won both an Irish and Yorkshire Oaks in the process.
It can only be assumed that Enable was at 90% fitness due to her interrupted preparations. The very feat of her master trainer getting her to the track to race was in itself remarkable. Regardless of race semantics, Enable came away with yet another victory, and one that must be considered impressive under the circumstances.
With a highly anticipated breeding career ahead, her future is uncertain, overshadowed by the very real possibility of retirement, which looms over her as it has for so many brilliant young horses before.
Although, due to the difference in breeding value and capabilities between stallions and mares, it is not uncommon for a top class filly to venture into a 4th season, such as Treve did in her valiant bid for a 3rd Arc win. If Enable were to run again this season, the only viable option for a horse of her class would be the Breeders Cup Turf, with no Arc winner ever having gone on to win both races in the same year. A 4th campaign, as the racing world greedily desires, would mean a date with destiny for Enable, a tantalising chance to become the only ever a horse to win 3 Arc’s, a feat unlikely ever to be repeated.
Multiple group winning horses such as Ulysses and Crystal Ocean have proved themselves to be little more than markers and statements of proof as to the sheer brilliance of Enable.
While it can often be hard to truly gauge the greatness of a racehorse following the time of a horse like Frankel, through her consistency, versatility and desire to win, regardless of the future, Enable has cemented herself as one of the very greatest racehorses in history.