Breeders' Cup - At The Races

In profile: Enable

    Superstar filly Enable is out to become the first Arc winner to follow up in the Turf.

ENABLE

Enable
  • Trainer: John Gosden
  • Likely Jockey: Frankie Dettori
  • Owner: Khalid Abdullah
  • Age & Breeding: 4yof; Nathaniel – Concentric (Sadler's Wells)
  • Season Form Figures: 11
  • Career Highlight: Her second consecutive victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

By Peter Fornatale

It has been two decades since Dancing Brave landed the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in a race that many still consider to be the greatest of all time. Less than a month later and favoured in the betting, Khalid Abdullah's colt could only finish fourth in the 1986 Breeders' Cup Turf in what was to be his final start.

In the intervening years, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has proven itself to be a most important indicator for the Turf, yet no horse has been able to do the double. Admittedly, few have tried, and a few of those who have made the attempt have found themselves very unlucky (Trempolino, Saumarez). Others victorious in the Arc have been considered too valuable to race on, or needed a break at the end of a gruelling season whether connections realized it or not (I’m looking at you, Dylan Thomas). Abdullah's latest Arc winner, Enable, will attempt to do what Dancing Brave could not, and so we get to see this wonder filly at the Turf.

The temptation to retire Enable must have been great. For all that fillies and mares have a fine record in the Arc, a female Arc winner is still a very rare thing indeed to an owner-breeder such as Abdullah, even allowing for the almost unrivalled quality of the broodmares that fall under the Juddmonte banner. Nonetheless, Abdullah found himself in the same position a year earlier after Enable had annexed her first Arc. As with now, he chose to roll the dice – and the gamble paid off.

Not that it was entirely smooth sailing, for Enable has spent much of the season off the track recovering from a knee injury; initially ruled out until the early-summer before a setback further delayed her reappearance. So much so that Enable did not see the track until the September Stakes.

The presence of the King George runner up Crystal Ocean added an extra level of intrigue to what otherwise would have been a glorified exercise canter and ensured Enable would have her mettle tested, even though on paper the penalised Crystal Ocean had seven pounds to find. In the race itself, Dettori was quick to send Enable to the lead and had his own way until Crystal Ocean pressed upside with just over two furlongs to run. Just as the pair looked set to commence a sustained duel down the straight, Enable found a bit more and eventually turned her only serious rival away, powering away in deep stretch and showing that despite her injuries her engine had remained intact.

Following her comeback win, all roads led to ParisLongchamp for an attempt to join an elite club of back-to-back Arc winners, and Enable did not disappoint, fending off the late charge of Sea Of Class in a race for the ages. Remarkably, her trainer revealed that Enable's preparation had not gone entirely smoothly and that there might yet be further improvement. Others have suggested that such a tough race off of inadequate preparation could lead to regression from the star. But I have to believe that if there was any sign she was over-the-top she would already be retired. The theory that she’ll come on for the Arc run is the one that holds sway with me.

If that is the case, Enable should be extremely hard to beat. Her 134 Timeform rating has been bettered only by Cracksman this year and it looks unlikely that she will face her stablemate in the Turf. Old rival Crystal Ocean looks up against it and it goes without saying that the typically underwhelming North American middle-distances performers can only dream of a rating in the 130s.

Enable looks to have everything in her favour as she attempts to make history and it is hoped that her sporting owner, who has done so much for racing, is rewarded for such a brave decision.

As far as the betting goes, the current prices of long odds on look short enough – though I’d be in no hurry to lay her even at those. Rather than bet now, we have the option of waiting to see how she handles the flight and how she looks in the mornings at Churchill or even how she goes to post. If she’s relaxed and happy and the prices are what they are now or better yet a bit higher, she wouldn’t be a bad gamble.

The stat you keep hearing about the record of Arc winners is nothing but noise, and this is a filly who will likely be peaking at just the right time.