Wednesday 18 September 2019

Enable looks bombproof

Frankie Dettori: ‘I just hope it goes well’ Photo: Getty
Frankie Dettori: ‘I just hope it goes well’ Photo: Getty

Marcus Armytage

Frankie Dettori currently shares the record for four Qatar Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe wins with six other jockeys, but if Enable justifies her short-priced favouritism and wins the 96th running of France's great race at Chantilly today, the jockey will be, as he has so often been throughout his career, out on his own.

That, however, is the last thing on Dettori's mind. "I don't care about the record, all I care about is trying to win," he said. "She's in great fettle and I hope she travels well but [the course at] Chantilly can be tricky. You have got to be aware of the hard luck stories there - we will need some good fortune."

He added: "She has been very consistent. She's had a long season but we will give it a go. She looks well, we're all happy with her, it's the biggest prize of the season, everyone wants to win and everyone's turned up.

"This is her biggest test yet, and if she's the best in Europe she's got to show her stuff and take another step forward. I just hope it goes well, and if she gets beat by a better horse, so be it. But it's all about Enable. If I become this that or the other, we can talk about that afterwards, but the only thing on my mind at the moment is to give her the best chance."

Dettori's love affair with the Arc is nearly three decades old. He has ridden in 28 of the past 29 runnings, missing out only once, when he was due to ride the eventual winner Treve but had to sit it out with a broken ankle.

Victories have come on Lammtarra in 1995, Sakhee in 2001, Marienbard in 2002 and, most recently, on Golden Horn in 2015, when he had to use his tactical genius to win from an outside draw.

He rode his first winner for Enable's trainer John Gosden on Susurration at Saint-Cloud in 1991. "I remember in the taxi on the way back to the airport," recalled Gosden. "He never stopped talking. He's learned a fair bit since. He's a very fine work rider and a great judge. At this stage of his career we're like a second home for him - he's here annoying people. When he arrives we say, 'Here comes the trainer!' There's plenty of banter, experience and respect.

"He's a special person and a remarkable jockey. On the other hand, he needs things to go right for him."

As much as Dettori and Gosden were wary of Golden Horn's outside draw at Longchamp in 2015, they will be circumspect about being drawn two, close to the inside rail, at Chantilly.

Both trainer and jockey will be awake to the potential trap of being hemmed in on the rail when the others come across and when they slow the pace up, as they invariably do, to go round the last bend.

However in all other respects Enable looks bombproof and it is possible that she is so much better than the rest that she can make her own luck. But she seems unfazed by soft ground - indeed she looks better on it - and if Dettori has to take her forward to get and hold a good position, the Yorkshire Oaks, in which she made all, was not a wasted exercise.

So, apart from bad luck in running, what can beat her? The French will point to her hard season but she appears to have thrived on her racing and certainly has not shown any signs to her trainer that she is over the top.

Ulysses has five lengths to make up with Enable on their King George form and he has an even worse draw than Dettori and Gosden's filly, right on the rail in stall one.

He is best over a mile and a quarter, so the sharper track might be more in his favour than Ascot, and he gives her 10lb now instead of a stone but, theoretically, she should be that much stronger.

Winter is the other star filly in Europe this summer. She has a better draw in stall eight and she has some useful escorts, although how Aidan O'Brien deploys his four other runners tactically remains to be seen. Engineering a sprint finish for Winter would help her but Capri, from a wide draw, and Order Of St George would both prefer a test of stamina.

With Almanzor retired, there appears to be no superstar French horse this season and a home victory looks a long shot. Indeed it will be interesting to see how the locals get on in the supporting races. If they have any hope of pulling out of the current slump, they will need to show up well in the Lagardere and Marcel Boussac.

Though further rain will not dent Enable's hopes - "it will ruin the aesthetics of the race," said Gosden - it will increase the chances of a third German-trained Arc winner to go with Star Appeal and Danedream.

Dschingis Secret caught the eye with his Prix Foy success over course and distance three weeks ago and the German colt looks a good each-way chance.


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