Wednesday 14 November 2018

Enable lives up to top billing in Breeders' Cup

Frankie Dettori celebrates after steering Enable to victory at Churchill Downs. Image: AP Photo/Darron Cummings
Frankie Dettori celebrates after steering Enable to victory at Churchill Downs. Image: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Marcus Armytage

There will not have been too many times in the 35 editions of the Breeders' Cup when the meeting's finale, the $6 million (€5.25m) Classic, has been put in the shade by the $4 million (€3.5m) Turf.

But even in a country where racing on dirt is king and grass is considered the poor relation, Enable's hard-fought victory to become the first Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner to double up in what the Americans call racing's 'World Championships' was being hailed over Accelerate's victory 55 minutes later.

You would not think it so hard to win an Arc in the autumn sunshine of Paris, have a nice break of a month and then ship across the Atlantic to beat a few inferior mile-and-a-halfers around a tight oval track, but it was beginning to look like a tall order - eight, including Dancing Brave and Golden Horn, had failed.

They will not be able to throw that statistic at John Gosden any more. But it was not just the fact that Enable did something no other horse has been able to do before. She was the big attraction at this meeting, as much as anything because Americans love a good filly. And the 'Princess' lived up to her billing.

Great races are as much due to the vanquished as the victor, and the sight of Enable going toe-to-toe up the straight with Aidan O'Brien's Magical in what winning jockey Frankie Dettori described as a "punch-up", with the rest of the field fading into the distance, was not one to forget in a hurry.

"I went half a length up and saw Ryan (Moore) in difficulty," said Dettori. "But he was like a wasp - not going away. Magical is like a duck on water in those conditions. The ground spoiled it for my filly. I know she likes soft, but she found it difficult."

It was Dettori's 100th ride at the Breeders' Cup, and following Expert Eye's win in the Mile earlier on the card, his 14th winner.

His brilliance on Enable was to extract her from the rail and the worst ground, to which she was pinned by her low draw, and get her on the better going, which he had discovered by going wide out of necessity on Expert Eye.

With Charlie Appleby winning the Juvenile Turf with Line of Duty on Friday and Michael Stoute on target with Expert Eye in the Mile, it was a good meeting for British horses, less so for the other Europeans. Magical was the nearest Aidan O'Brien came to hitting the target with his 13 runners.

The Classic was won by favourite Accelerate while O'Brien's Mendelssohn paid the price for going too hard in front and finished fifth. Roaring Lion didn't take to the dirt surface. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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