Watch what John Gosden had to say to Lydia Hislop at Newmarket on Saturday; expert betting analysis of the big race plus read the views of top connections.
John Gosden has admitted that Enable’s troubled campaign has left him with “some doubt” in his mind ahead of the star filly attempting to become the first British-trained horse to become a two-time winner of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.
The daughter of Nathaniel carried all before her last year, winning five successive Group One contests and capping a superb season with a fluent win in the Arc.
However, she spent this summer on the sidelines after injuring her knee in May and only made her return at Kempton last month, when beating two rivals in a muddling running of the September Stakes.
Asked at Newmarket on Saturday if her preparation has gone smoothly, he replied with a smile: “It has, but the year hasn’t gone smoothly. No doubt it’s been a difficult time for everybody, especially her.
“You don’t go there with quite the same confidence when you had after the year we had last year, when she was progressive and very smooth.
“This has been anything but [smooth]. That always leaves some doubt in your mind but we are very happy with her and we will see if they catch any of this rain tomorrow morning. If they do, she will handle cut.”
Turning his mind to the opposition – and principal dangers – he added: “I think the betting says it with the second and third favourites [Sea Of Class and Waldgeist] but to me the Arc is the Arc and you need things to go right and horses can put in huge performances. You can be a short-priced favourite but it doesn’t mean much when those gates open.”
Tony Calvin and Rachel Casey explore Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe betting angles.
Gosden revealed that Enable, a best-priced Evens to secure back-to-back victories, travelled to France on Friday night. But instead of being housed at the racecourse, she is instead spending Saturday night half an hour away in Chantilly
“She was through the tunnel early and and had a clear run down,” Gosden said. “She’s in Chantilly – I don’t like them at the races (racecourse) when they are racing. There is a lot of activity in the stable yards, so she will head down there tomorrow.”
Drawn in stall six this weekend, Enable seeks to provide Gosden with a third Arc in four years, and give Frankie Dettori a sixth success – having already become the most successful jockey in the race’s history last year.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “We’ll know if stall six is a good draw on Sunday evening.
“I always think we spend so much time talking about the draw and the ground and they are the two things we can do absolutely nothing about, completely out of our control.
“As it is, we’d have to be happy with stall six, though.”
When told Andre Fabre had compared taking on Enable to coming up against Barcelona and Manchester City combined – with Frankie Dettori in the starring Lionel Messi role, Grimthorpe quipped: “Well I hope he (Dettori) hits the target.”
Watch how Enable won the Arc last year
The injury which kept Enable out for the first half of the campaign is now viewed as an annoyance more than anything else, with everything going to plan since then.
Grimthorpe said: “It hasn’t been a rushed year, well, this part of it hasn’t. It’s been a shortened year, but probably at the right end.
“Everything from the summer onwards has gone very well, she’s been straightforward in every way.
“You can make of it what you will that she made her return at Kempton, but it was still very satisfactory from the point of view that she hadn’t run since October (last year).
“It was pleasing to see how much she enjoyed it, so we’re going into the race positively.”
Whether she runs again, principally at the Breeders’ Cup, will not be decided until after Sunday’s race.
How good was the Yorkshire Oaks win of Sea Of Class?
Sea Of Class is seen as Enable’s main danger following her wins in the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks, although she has apparently not fared quite as well in the draw with stall 15.
And while Team Enable have plenty of experience of the Arc, for William Haggas it is just a second ever runner after his Derby winner Shaamit came up short.
He said at Newmarket on Saturday: “It’s great to be involved. I’m obviously concerned about lots of things but I try and tell myself, however exciting it is, that it’s just a horse race and we mustn’t lose sleep over the fact that if she runs fast enough she’ll win and if she doesn’t, she won’t.
“We are happy with her. I don’t like the draw, but that’s James’s [Doyle] problem.
“Her owner, Mrs Tsui, has had two runners in the Arc – Urban Sea, who won, and the second was Sea The Stars, who also won, so she’s got an unblemished record.
“Mine is very blemished, I’ve had one runner in the Arc, Shaamit, who finished eighth and got injured in the race, so I’d like to have another go and it’s nice to go there with a chance.
“We were very pleased with her at York, as we were at the Curragh, but obviously she’s got bigger fish to fry now. But, she has a change of speed and that is as crucial as anything in a horse race.
“She was asked to do quite a lot at the Curragh in coming from where she did, but she managed it. After that, the next option against fillies was the Yorkshire Oaks against her elders and she was impressive again.
“Obviously, it is very competitive and my friend and rival up the Bury Road (Gosden) has a great chance, he’d like lots of rain whereas I’d like none. There are also lots of other horses – the Arc is always a championship race.”