By Nicholas Godfrey
So you know Enable landed her third victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes in sparkling fashion at Ascot on Saturday. You’ve probably seen the race – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know.
What’s going on?
Enable: all eyes on Arc history
Enable has regained favouritism for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after her Ascot romp where she went one better than dual winners Dahlia (1973, 1974) and Swain (1997, 1998) to become the first three-time winner of the King George.
Now all roads lead to ParisLongchamp after an emphatic performance. “We have a massive dream to try and win a third Arc, so fingers crossed,” said Frankie Dettori. Coral make her 11-4 favourite (from 4), while Ladbrokes go 5-2 (from 4).
Arc betting (Coral): 11-4 Enable, 3 Love, 8 Ghaiyyath, 10 Mishriff, Serpentine, 14 Logician, 16 Sottsass, Victor Ludorum, 20 Daring Tact, Stradivarius.
… but York comes next
Enable is set to follow a familiar path before the Arc by taking in a race at York’s Ebor Festival en route. “York has always been on the agenda,” said John Gosden.
“There are two races at York and we will look at both of them, as we did last year,” he added. “That would be an idea if that suits perfectly but I would just like to get a race or racecourse gallop into her before the Arc.
“I don’t want to from the end of July until the first week of October just be training her at home – she knows those gallops backwards and she would get bored. York could be really exciting with an exceptional Oaks winner [Love] going there as well.”
New G1 record – surpassing Frankel
Enable’s total of 11 G1 victories – one more than Frankel – is the highest by any British-trained horse since the introduction of the Pattern system for grading Flat races in 1971.
The legendary Brigadier Gerard, who won the King George in 1973, landed 12 races that are now G1 events but did not carry that status when he won them, while his Middle Park success in 1970 predated the Pattern.
The record for a European-trained horse is three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile heroine Goldikova with 14, while Australian supermare Winx holds the world record at 25. Over jumps, Hurricane Fly won 22 Grade 1s, while Kauto Star claimed 16.
Frankie Dettori’s ‘favourite girl’
The winning jockey was in emotional mood about the mare he describes as his “favourite girl”.
After performing his trademark flying dismount, Dettori said: “I love her so much. She has taken me to emotional heights no other horse has. She is the only horse I ride from the yard; I spoil her with Polos.
“I don’t know whether she really recognises me or not, but she eats them no matter what! I’ve become friends with her. She knows she is good, and I am trying to enjoy it as much as we all are. She is wonderful.
“She is so consistent and I love her. It is very sad that I am only going to be on her for another couple of months. She has touched my heart.”
Frankie equals Lester’s King George mark
Frankie Dettori’s victory on Enable was his seventh success in the midsummer showpiece, equalling Lester Piggott’s record.
Dettori’s previous wins came via Lammtarra (1995), Swain (1997, 1998), Doyen (2004), Enable (2017, 2019).
Piggott scored on Meadow Court (1965), Aunt Edith (1966), Park Top (1969), Nijinsky (1970), Dahlia (1974), The Minstrel (1977) and Teenoso (1984).
John Gosden’s five KIng George wins leaves him one behind Sir Michael Stoute, who leads the way with six. Owner Khalid Abdullah has won the race four times – Enable’s three plus Dancing Brave (1986).
Smallest field in history
With only three runners, this was the smallest field since the King George began in 1951 to coincide with the Festival of Britain; there were four when Nasram won in 1964.
“It was a small field but an elite field,” commented John Gosden. “These are proper Irish Derby, Juddmonte International winners – those are top G1s and there aren’t many top G1 horses around at any time. I know that this has been a difficult year but at least it was a truly elite race and it was run at a proper pace.
“The Oaks and Derby winner live at Ballydoyle so they are not going to start knocking all their heads against each other.”
Anthony Van Dyck: blood ‘not normal’
The King George field was reduced to three when Anthony Van Dyck was withdrawn on a vet’s certificate (blood analysis not normal). “It’s disappointing but we have to do the right thing by the horse,” said Aidan O’Brien, speaking to the Racing Post.
In the absence of last year’s Derby winner, the two remaining Ballydoyle runners were no match whatsoever for Enable with front-running Sovereign brushed aside by 5½ lengths and Japan another 11 lengths further back.
Prize-money cut to £400,000
Owing to coronavirus, total KIng George prize-money was slashed to £400,000, compared to an original £1.25 million.
The move follows all G1 races at Royal Ascot having been run for £250,000 instead of their usual purses owing to coronavirus belt-tightening, while Britain’s richest race, the Investec Derby at Epsom, was run for £500,000 – under a third of its 2019 value.
In a similar vein, next month’s Juddmonte International at York will be worth £275,000 instead of the intended £1m, while the Sky Bet Ebor, Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and Darley Yorkshire Oaks will be reduced to £250,000.
Shall we talk about it?
John Gosden (Enable’s trainer): “She’s really trained beautifully for this race and she’s back in top order, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve been thrilled with her at home. I was expecting to see that but life can be full of disappointment. The way she has trained, I was hoping that she would do a Montjeu. There was a hint of that, nothing quite so spectacular, but a hint of it because they are G1 horses.
“They are three proper ones and she came here and did it. It has not been easy this year – as I have been clear with everyone – getting her to race fitness but the Eclipse really brought her on and she was quite imperious today. I think Frankie gave her one flick.
“She is a gorgeous filly to be around because she carries herself so well and is such a positive influence to everybody about her. We are incredibly lucky to be with her every day training and Frankie comes in and bribes her with the Polo mints. We are lucky – of course it is a weighty responsibility, but we are very fortunate to have a filly of that ability, of that stature and of that character.”
Frankie Dettori (Enable’s jockey): “She is unbelievable and John has done a great job to keep her going. Three King Georges has never been done before, and now we’ll try the impossible and go for three Arcs. I mean what a horse … what can you say? There is no superlative to say how good she is. I love her so much. My favourite girl!
“I spoke to John at length this morning and said I am not going to break her stride. Obviously, Japan is the horse to beat but, if he wants to follow me, I have no problem with her because she is very versatile.
“We all wanted a good gallop and knew Sovereign was going to set some decent fractions. I said to John I would make my mind up as we approach Swinley Bottom and I think Ryan was very happy to follow me. I decided to set my own fractions.
“It’s a long way to the line in the King George so I was trying to use Sovereign as a reference point for a bit. I didn’t hear a lot so I took a sneaking glance behind me and when I looked round I saw he was in trouble. I waited to a furlong and a half out and all she had to do was find another gear and she did.
“She is amazing and made it look so easy. She is six, so she is no spring chicken and to put up a performance like that is great.”
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