Talking Horses: Enable unlikely to begin campaign before Royal Ascot

Greg Wood
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Michel Euler/AP</span>
Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Enable is unlikely to begin her fifth racing season until Royal Ascot at the earliest, with her campaign being planned entirely around a return to Longchamp in October in search of an elusive third win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, John Gosden, the mare’s trainer, said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the annual Longines World’s Best Racehorse ceremony in London, Gosden said that “June time, Royal Ascot” is the obvious place for the six-year-old to start what seems almost certain to be her final year on the track.

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“If you aim for the autumn, you don’t want to be starting in the spring,” Gosden said. “We aimed at Ascot last year and ended up running in the Eclipse [in July]. We’ll see how she is make the decision together, but the final thing is that the decision will be taken by the filly herself.”

Enable’s defeat when favourite for last year’s Arc was the only significant reverse in what was otherwise the best season of Frankie Dettori’s three decades in the saddle, and he is eager to be back aboard a horse whose performances at times rendered him almost speechless with emotion in 2019.

“Every sport needs champions and she’s been amazing, Dettori said. “She’s captured not just racing’s imagination, but she’s attracted other people to watch the sport. She’s got a sense of demeanour and brilliance about her and I can’t say how pleased I am that she’s stayed in training. I know the Arc is nine months away but that’s the main target. We very rarely get these types of horses so let’s all enjoy it.”

Enable’s success and huge popularity with fans was not fully reflected in the end-of-season ratings after the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Wednesday’s ceremony marked her debut in the top three of the World’s Best Racehorse standings. She shared top billing with Crystal Ocean, who was a neck behind her in the King George at Ascot when giving her 3lb, and Waldgeist, who stormed down the middle of the Longchamp straight to frustrate her first bid to win a third Arc last October.

Meanwhile, Pinatubo’s nine-length defeat of Armory in the Group One National Stakes at The Curragh last September has received official recognition as the finest performance by a two-year-old for a quarter of a century, as Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten colt was duly installed as 2019’s champion juvenile with a rating of 128, 2lb in front of the great Frankel at the same stage of his career.


Fakenham 12.25 Robin De Broome 12.55 Massini’s Dream 1.25 Little Light (nap) 2.00 Grand Roi 2.35 Eceparti 3.10 Miss Heritage 3.45 Young Offender

Southwell 12.40 Six Til Twelve 1.15 Sweet Talked 1.45 Little India 2.20 Merryweather 2.55 Blowing Dixie 3.30 National Anthem 4.05 Grandscape

Wetherby 1.05 Dark Lochnagar 1.35 Adelphi Prince (nb) 2.10 Virnon 2.45 Jobsonfire 3.20 Storm Control 3.55 Eden Du Houx

Newcastle 4.30 Blazing Dreams 5.00 Proceeding 5.30 Arbiter 6.00 Louis Treize 6.30 St Just 7.00 Billy Wedge 7.30 Rebel Redemption 8.00 Qaaraat


Like Frankel, Pinatubo completed his two-year-old campaign with a win in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, but it was his earlier victories in both the National Stakes and the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, by a combined total of 14 lengths, which sealed his status as one of the best juveniles for decades. Arazi (1991) and Celtic Swing (1994) are the only juveniles to receive a higher mark than Pinatubo since the European classification was first compiled in 1988.

‘Dark horses’

The handicappers have also been passing on their picks of three-year-olds that, they feel, will show significant improvement as the campaign develops.

Smith nominates Waldkonig (John Gosden), Brentford Hope (Richard Hughes), Via De Vega (Andrew Balding) and Hukum (Owen Burrows), while Mark Bird, Ireland’s senior juvenile handicapper, picks Alpine Star (Jessica Harrington), Even So, Chiricahua (both Ger Lyons) and Russian Emperor (Aidan O’Brien).

Smith feels Brentford Hope could be worth running in a Guineas trial having won a Newmarket maiden by five lengths in October, while Via De Vega came from a very unpromising position to win on his debut at Sandown in September. Waldkonig, meanwhile, showed a remarkable turn of foot to win at Wolverhampton in December, while Hukum also made up plenty of ground to win a novice at Kempton. “He’s bred for middle-distances and looks every inch one for the Derby trials.”

Bird expects Alpine Star “to make up for lost time” after missing the second part of the season, while Even So “is very much one to look forward to over middle distances”. Russian Emperor “has the potential to emerge as one of the stable’s better three-year-olds this season”, while Chiricahua, who is still a maiden, “has a pedigree which suggests a nice blend of speed and stamina, and as a late April foal, he should be more race-savvy with some experience under his belt”.

Wednesday’s best bets

Colin Tizzard will take a small step along the same path as Harrington today when Padleyourowncanoe (2.20) goes to post for the stayers’ handicap at Lingfield. The six-year-old is a very rare runner for Tizzard on the Flat – only his seventh since 2004 – and while he has yet to welcome a winner on the level, today could be the day. Padleyourowncanoe is on a very fair mark just on his latest Flat outing back in September 2017, when he was second to a well-handicapped rival.

Minella Rocco, the runner-up behind Harrington’s Sizing John in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2017, is an interesting runner in the hunter chase at Warwick, though Bob And Co (3.15), the likely favourite, is already second-favourite for the Foxhunter Chase at the Festival in March. Schiehallion Munro (2.30) will take plenty of beating in the feature event at Catterick Bridge, while Shine On Brendan (6.30) and Brigham Young (7.00) both have plenty going for them at Kempton.


Lingfield 12.40 Kraka 1.10 Shamameya 1.45 Dark Silver 2.20 Padleyourowncanoe 2.50 Victory Bond 3.25 Tolmount 3.55 Roundabout Magic

Warwick 1.00 Blacko 1.35 It's Probably Me 2.10 From The Heart 2.40 Terrierman 3.15 Bob And Co 3.45 Made For You 4.15 Main Fact
 
Catterick  1.20 Evander 1.55 Ask Paddy 2.30 Schiehallion Munro (nap) 3.00 Minella Trump 3.35 Silver Tassie 4.05 Miss Amelia

Kempton  4.30 Atalanta Queen 5.00 Ispahan 5.30 Stormy Mountain 
6.00 Morrooj 6.30 Shine On Brendan 7.00 Brigham Young (nb) 7.30 Pentimento 8.00 Full Intention 










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