Dettori ready for one last fling with love of his life Enable

·4-min read
After three decades of winners, Frankie Dettori admits there is no horse he has loved more than Enable
After three decades of winners, Frankie Dettori admits there is no horse he has loved more than Enable

Paris might be the city of love but it's the city of heartbreak too - just ask Frankie Dettori, writes James Toney.

It's 274 days since Enable's valiant bid for an unprecedented third win in Europe's richest race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, ended in a gallant second at Longchamp.

Ultimately the dream was undone by ground further softened by the tears of her loyal followers and as they trudged morosely in the general direction of the Gare du Nord, most thought that was it. Surely this was the final fling of a brief but brilliant love affair with the best mare we've seen in generations?

However, then came the news, just a fortnight later, that she would race on into a six-year old season to have one last tilt at history.

That road back to redemption in Paris starts at Sandown today, as Dettori and trainer John Gosden aim their superstar at the Eclipse Stakes, part of the Qipco British Champion Series, a Group One prize she claimed brilliantly one year ago.

And it's arguably the race of the season with the world's highest-rated horse facing rising star Ghaiyyath, Japanese-trained mare Deirdre and Aidan O'Brien's Group One winners Japan and Magic Wand.

"She's so uncomplicated and she has an amazing capacity in the lungs that means when she takes a breath, I can feel my legs moving and she's the only horse I've felt that with," said Dettori, who has sat on some equine talent in the last three decades but none that has moved him - in every way possible - quite like Enable.

"She's the ultimate thoroughbred. Everyone knows Enable now but at the start we didn't really know what she'd be, though we thought she'd be quite good.

"The sky is still the limit for her, she's an unbelievable horse and I just love her so much. I'm just so pleased she's still racing and just hope she is a good as last year.

"The main aim is trying to get her to the first Sunday in October in the best shape we can get her to try to do something that no horse has done in Arc history.

"She looks magnificent. Sometimes you are afraid when a horse is getting older that they might lose the racing brain but she seems very alert and she struts around the place like she owns it. She's very fresh and alert and that's a good sign."

Jockeys are notoriously unsentimental types but Dettori almost starts to well up when discussing his partnership with Enable, which has seen them win 12 times in Britain, Ireland, France and the USA, with a resume that includes some epic battles, including success at the Breeders' Cup and last year's thrilling King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Gosden knows when Dettori has been to pay his special lady some special attention because of the polo wrappers discarded on the stable floor - a minty treat he reserves exclusively for Enable.

However, Charlie Appleby has no intention of letting the reigning Queen of the turf have it all her own way, with his charge Ghaiyyath not far behind in the world rankings.

He showed his class last season with a thumping 14-length Group One success in Germany and flew to victory in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket last month, a scorching course record secured in the process.

“I think we can quite confidently state that it’s the race of the season so far," said Appleby.

"You’ve got two of the highest-rated horses in the world and the others are certainly no mugs. It’s going to be a great race and it’s no wonder everyone is looking forward to it.

“Enable’s the most wonderful racemare and we’ve all got her to beat. I’m sure John [Gosden] has an autumn campaign very much as his goal but we are always going to treat her with the utmost respect.”

Love's victory in Saturday's Oaks at Epsom - a race Enable famously won in a thunderstorm three years ago - means there is new younger lady on the scene, with the double Classic winner also now looking towards Paris in October.

That's the mouthwatering main course to come, until then Sandown will provide an amuse bouche to savour.