Friday, October 26, 2018
No jockey has won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe more times than Frankie Dettori. His five victories exceed what anybody else has achieved and I think Frankie will extend his record again on Sunday courtesy of the magnificent Enable.
I know you won't get rich backing her, and I know tipping her to win is hardly original or exciting, but I am genuinely full of confidence she will do what Treve did only four years ago by showing herself to be one of the sport's all-time greats through back to back triumphs.
The Arc is a prize I would have loved to win, and I did come close when finishing second aboard Youmzain. For Frankie, winning the Arc has become practically a pastime, particularly since he rejoined John Gosden, and although this has been a very different sort of season for Enable compared to the one she enjoyed last season, she is once again a red-hot favourite and deservedly so.
We have only seen her once as a four-year-old but there was so much to like about what we did see at Kempton.
Enable had little more than an exercise gallop when winning the September Stakes. That is all John Gosden will have wanted her to have, knowing he would only be able to give her the one run before the Arc. He could have dropped her to ten furlongs for the Irish Champion Stakes or even sent her to France for the Prix Vermeille, but he will have been keen at all cost to avoid giving her a hard time. That would have knocked her back. I therefore thought returning her at Kempton was very intelligent.
You always hear about a horse suffering from the bounce factor on the second run after a long time off the track. John will have been fully aware of that and therefore found the most straightforward race he could. In fact, had that race not been available I'm sure he could have loaded up a box with a few horses and done something similar as a racecourse gallop.
To be fair to Crystal Ocean, who has had such an excellent season, I don't think the all-weather surface suited him, given he is an out and out galloper. For that reason, you can't take the form too literally. Even so, it's still interesting Sir Michael Stoute pointed towards how impressive Enable was at Kempton when explaining the decision not to supplement Crystal Ocean for the Arc.
John will have got Enable to Longchamp cherry ripe. You can be sure Frankie will carry out his side of the bargain as well.
When you have a big horse running on a big day there is no finer man for the occasion than Frankie Dettori. He has shown us that time and time again. Pressure just does not get to him.
In his favour here is that he is on a filly who has gears. That is so important in any race but particularly in an Arc contested by the sort of big field we have on Sunday. No matter how careful a jockey is through the Arc he can very easily get into trouble. Crucially, a horse who can quicken has the ability to get out of trouble. Enable is exactly such a horse.
You can afford to lose a prime position on a filly. In fact, sometimes it's the most sensible thing to do. Travelling from start to finish over the Arc course and distance can be a rough experience for any horse, especially a filly. You really don't want to get into an argy-bargy fighting match over one berth. It's not worth it. Fillies tend to be more sensitive to pushing and shoving than colts, particularly around their rib cage area. With a colt you can continually push and barge your way to get the spot you want. On a filly it can be more sensible to sacrifice one or two positions.
In an ideal world I'm sure Frankie would love to be sat in fourth or fifth toward the outside. He will want Enable to be able to race with a little bit of room around her. He won't want her to be hassled. That will be at the front of his mind the whole way round. Moreover, he can afford to play safe on Enable because he knows if he ends up a few lengths further back than ideal he is on a filly whose acceleration will allow her to bridge the gap.
In Arcs that have been staged on a relatively quick surface and with sizeable fields, the draw has often been a factor. At no point has that troubled me in relation to Enable, partly because Frankie is so brilliant at riding from a bad draw.
There is a tried and tested Frankie way of dealing with it. He stays out wide, he gets his revs up and he continues in a straight line from where he started. He doesn't try to move in to the pack quickly. Only after he has made up ground does he begin to edge over. You can see him drop his chin on to his right shoulder, assesses the situation and then slot in. The other jockeys can see what he is doing, they know he is coming and yet somehow Frankie always seems to find a nice spot. For a perfect example, have a look back at what he did in the early stages of Golden Horn's Arc in 2015.
Enable's odds might make you think she faces a simple task. That isn't the case because the opposition is strong, headed by Sea Of Class. She has been one of this season's main players. James Doyle must have got a mighty buzz when putting her head in front on the line in the Irish Oaks and he will have again loved the feeling when she quickened up in the Yorkshire Oaks.
The weight concession three-year-old fillies receive from all their rivals in the Arc is massively helpful. On top of that, William Haggas wouldn't be running her if he couldn't see her going close. If Enable doesn't perform, for whatever reason, Sea Of Class is the most likely horse to take advantage.
Regular column readers will know how highly I respect Andre Fabre - how could anyone not? - and I wouldn't be surprised to see any of his three runners fill the places. Waldgeist has looked like a different horse this year, particularly in the Prix Foy. Cloth Of Stars and Talismanic are available at much bigger prices, but one finished second to Enable at Chantilly last year and the other won the most recent staging of the Breeders' Cup Turf, so neither animal could be considered a slouch.
However, to my eyes Enable looks special. I think in terms of ability she is head and shoulders over all those she will be facing on Sunday afternoon.
She was superb 12 months ago and she reach a notch higher now, which is a frightening thought for the opposition. A filly should always progress from three to four, providing she trains on, which we know Enable has done. She will now be a stronger, more developed and more mature racehorse. Don't forget as well that it was only in December of her two-year-old season that Enable made her racecourse debut.
She was great last year. She should be even greater this year. If she is, the rest don't stand a chance.
On Arc weekend it would be very fitting if I enjoyed the most valuable success of my training career so far with a horse carrying the colours of triple Arc second Youmzain, who I rode to take runner-up honours 11 years ago.
Jaber Abdullah certainly has a lovely young horse in the shape of Sunsprite. I reckon he has a hell of a chance in the biggest race of Redcar's year, the Racing UK Two-Year-Old Trophy.
After winning three consecutive races there was nothing wrong with his latest third, stepped up to Listed company at Ripon.
On that occasion he finished just over a length behind Sporting Chance, who has gone on to decisively win a Group 3 in France. The sixth horse at Ripon, Kessaar, has subsequently secured two big-race wins in the Sirenia and Mill Reef Stakes, while the fifth, Barbill, captured a valuable pot when coming home in front in a Curragh sales race.
We have been saving Sunsprite for this Redcar date since he acquitted himself so well at Ripon. I really fancy him to run a big race, and whatever the weather does, I don't mind, as he breezed very well on soft ground at Doncaster. He will be well able to cope with the big field, as did Limato, who isn't over big. Redcar is a nice, wide track and they don't race up against a rail, which also helps.
Sunsprite won't be on his own at Redcar as Jashma will represent us in the 5f handicap (5.40). He isn't the easiest horse to win on, so Shane Kelly will need to be on his A-game, but they tend to go fast from the off at Redcar, and that is going to suit him.
Undoubtedly fast is Perfect Angel, who has her second run for our yard in the Listed Duke of Edinburgh's Award Rous Stakes (1.50) at Ascot.