By Nicholas Godfrey
France: Frankie Dettori reckons the ground will be “a big plus” for Enable as she bids for a place in history with an unprecedented third victory in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Shock Derby winner Serpentine has been added to Europe’s richest race for a supplementary fee of €72,000, which means a total of 16 horses – five of them trained by Aidan O’Brien – are engaged in the €3 million contest.
Likely testing conditions at ParisLongchamp have seen Enable promoted to the head of Arc betting markets ahead of Serpentine’s stablemate Love, who continues seemingly friendless with further rain forecast. There are suggestions she may even miss the race.
Dettori holds the record for Arc winners as a jockey with six. However, the race was also responsible for what he describes as the worst three hours of his career in the aftermath of Enable’s final-furlong defeat to Waldgeist 12 months ago.
“Frankly, the pressure involved is less than last year and it’s not because there will be fewer people in Paris,” said the jockey, who turns 50 in December. “It’s because we have already experienced disappointment.
“The three hours that followed last year’s defeat were the worst in my entire professional career – and I think that Enable was similarly downcast.”
Frankie Dettori’s Arc record (31 rides)
Although he respects dual-Classic winner Love, Dettori is hoping the ground will help swing things in his magnificent mare’s favour.
“Rain is forecast and the ground will most likely be heavy and I hope that we won’t experience extremes of going as happened last year,” added the jockey, speaking to France Galop.
“But the ground is a very important factor and Enable has already shown that she can handle it. It’s a big plus; a bit like the three kilos weight (7lb) filly’s allowance that Love will be receiving.
“She will be coming into the Arc de Triomphe a bit like Enable did as a three-year-old, but having trod a different path,” he added. “I have a high regard for her, like everyone else but I’ve spoken to colleagues and racing analysts and they say that a heavy track could count against Love because her low-to-the-ground, fast action is better suited to good ground.”
Looking at Enable’s other rivals, Dettori went on: “Genuine heavy ground will turn the Arc into a stamina test and that will play to Stradivarius’s strengths, but the distance may prove a bit long for Persian King, although anything trained by Andre Fabre warrants respect.
“There are other horses which shouldn’t be underestimated such as Sottsass. He hasn’t had a hard campaign and boasts prior experience in the Arc de Triomphe.”
Dettori and Enable have already created a slice of history by winning the King George for a third time. “I’m praying that we will get drawn somewhere between one and eight,” he said. “There are two horses that like to go to the front: Serpentine and Sovereign. So taking up a good position will be important.”
Enable’s trainer John Gosden said Enable was primed to run a big race as he chases his fourth Arc win in six years after Golden Horn (2015) and the mare’s two wins in 2017 and 2018.
“Enable is doing very well,” said Gosden. “She’s at her optimum racing weight and is happy. We had a bit of trouble getting her really fit this year, as the mare has grown older and heavier. “However, as things stand, she’s in top form. So we are confident; she has never run a bad race. She invariably rises to the task.”
John Gosden’s Arc record (11 runners)
Gosden, who also saddles top stayer Stradivarius, spoke about the effect of likely ground conditions on his exalted pair.
“Enable has already run well on very soft ground, but like many horses, she prefers good ground,” he said. “She can cope with testing tracks, but that renders her task more difficult as it’s more demanding in terms of stamina.
“Stradivarius has always been a fast-ground horse but he surprised us on the day of the Gold Cup when he managed to win, despite the conditions, over two and a half miles. So if it rains, we hope that both horses will be able to cope.”
Gosden added: “The Enable adventure has been fantastic and, if she wins on Sunday, it would be wonderful. However, above all, the only thing we ask of the mare is that she gives it her best shot. I’m sure that she will do that.”
Arc betting (Ladbrokes): 6-4 Enable, 3 Love, 13-2 Stradivarius, 12 Sottsass, In Swoop, 16 Mogul, Raabihah, Serpentine, 20 Japan, 25 Persian King, 40 Way To Paris, 50 Gold Trip, 66 Deirdre, Sovereign, 100 Chachnak, 200 Royal Julius.