Sport Horse Racing

Friday 23 March 2018

Arc tilt on agenda for Enable after Curragh Oaks cruise

Enable and Frankie Dettori pull well clear to win the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photo: Eóin NoonanSportsfile
Enable and Frankie Dettori pull well clear to win the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Photo: Eóin NoonanSportsfile

Gary Carson

Connections of Enable hinted at a potential tilt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe later in the season after she followed up her Epsom victory with a stunning performance in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh yesterday.

John Gosden's filly dominated her rivals in the Investec Oaks in early June and was the 2/5 favourite to become the first to complete the English-Irish Oaks double since Snow Fairy seven years ago.

The daughter of Nathaniel tracked the pace-setting Bengala and Frankie Dettori was happy to commit for home halfway up the straight.

The further Enable went the better she looked and she passed the post five-and-a-half lengths clear of Rain Goddess in second, with Eziyra a couple of lengths further back in third.

"She's probably the best we've got. She's exceptionally good," enthused Gosden.

"She did it very well. I thought John Oxx's filly (Bengala) made a nice, sensible gallop and Frankie was able to get a lead into the straight. She quickens and she stays well. We couldn't be more pleased with her."

Asked about plans, Gosden said: "Maybe she'll take the colts on at some stage, absolutely. She is in the King George in two weeks and we'll see what we think.

"She has got a little bit of a cut on her near hind, so we'll have to see how that is.

"She's in the Yorkshire Oaks and there's the Arc de Triomphe, so we'll see. As usual, the horse will always tell you."

The ever-popular Dettori was sidelined for around a month by a shoulder injury suffered in a paddock fall at Yarmouth before returning to the saddle earlier this week. He admitted he had rushed himself back in action to take the ride on Enable.

Dettori, winning his fourth Irish Oaks, said: "I've had a bad spell, but I'm back and it's nice to have my first winner back in a Classic. Luckily, where I broke it (shoulder), it was in a place where it was going to heal very quickly. If I was going to have an operation I would have been out for the season. I probably came back a week too quick but the dangling carrot was so big, I had to come back."

Reflecting on Enable's performance, the Italian, who treated the crowd to his traditional flying dismount, added: "She's amazing. She's got a good cruising speed for a stayer, she can quicken and she gets the distance really well.

"They're all the things you want. I was able to give my shoulder a rest in the last 100 yards and ease our way to the line. She felt great.

"As long as she travels, her well-being is good and she produces performances like that, we don't have to worry too much."

Enable carries the colours of Khalid Abdullah and his racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, also admitted the Arc is likely to come under consideration.

He said: "It's very exciting. Obviously we're absolutely thrilled with the way she's done it, in the style of a top-class filly.

"The way the Oaks was run at Epsom was at break-neck speed. They really put it to her and she outstayed them with a really classy performance.

"Today the pace wasn't quite so energetic, but she had a good position and quickened well in the straight.

"Physically she's improved. She's got some substance and depth to her now and also a very nice temperament, which is important on these occasions.

"I'd have to talk to John and Prince Khalid. The King George may come a bit soon for her. We could go for the Yorkshire Oaks and then think about other things in the autumn. She would need to be supplemented for the Arc, but she's got a little bit in the kitty now.

"I think they're very nice thoughts to have. It's onwards and upwards."

Caspian Prince got the better of a thrilling battle with Marsha to spring a surprise in the Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes, also at the Curragh.

Having won last year's Prix de l'Abbaye and finished third in last month's King's Stand at Royal Ascot, the Mark Prescott-trained Marsha was all the rage for this Group Two contest as the 1/2 favourite.

Three-time Epsom Dash winner Caspian Prince, trained by Tony Coyle, was a 10/1 shot stepped up in grade and cut out much of the running under Declan McDonogh.

Luke Morris asked Marsha for her effort in the final furlong and she drew alongside to set up a grandstand finish.

Both horses fought tooth and nail to the line and flashed by almost as one, but the judge confirmed Caspian Prince the winner by a short head.

Winning owner Stephen Louch said: "It's always going to be close in a race like that. I didn't expect to come and beat Marsha today. She's a good horse and we knew we were in with a chance, but to actually achieve it and get a Group race under his belt is brilliant.

"He is a star and it's fantastic. We picked him up in the sale at Deauville. From that day forward we have just fallen in love with him and won't let him go.

"We want to see him finish his career hopefully with a few more nice wins."

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