Enable The Wonder-horse Beaten at Longchamp

Many will say that there is no race day, certainly in Europe, as good or more famous than Arc day in Paris. This year, Enable, the John Gosden trained wonder filly went to create history and win her third Arc. No horse has ever won three Arcs. Run every year at the famous Longchamp track in the middle of Paris on the first Sunday in October, there are six Group 1 races on the card, including of course the famous Prix De L’arc de Triomphe.

Longchamp from air coming into Charles De Gaule Airport

The Arc, as it is colloquially known was first run in 1920, following the allies victory in the first world war, and as a sort of celebration. It was worth 150,000 French Francs, which at the time was a fortune. It is still worth a fortune and still carries the best prize money of any race in Europe, this year’s pot is a mere 4.5 Million Euros, with well over 2.5 million going to the winner.

Enable arrived at the track already with two Arcs on her score card, one at Chantilly, when Longchamp was under refurbishment in 2017, and the second in 2018 when she beat Sea of Chimes, just, to secure her second. In the 2018 contest, it was thought that with an appalling draw, right on the outside, Enable was greatly disadvantaged and unlikely to win. However, jockey Frankie Dettori, perhaps gave his most sensational performance of his life when he held the filly out for some time before being able to join the pack where he wanted, half way through the race. This allowed him to produce the filly in perfect timing to take the win.

Enable bidding for third Arc 2019

In 2019, Enable arrived as hot favourite, particularly as she had been allocated a much kinder draw – at 9 – rather than way out in the yonder. This filly was attempting to break the record for the number of Arcs won by any horse in history. She certainly had her work cut out. This Arc was a strong renewal. ‘Would Enable make history,’ was the cry from the racing world before the running? Would she add to her tally of race wins of eleven wins from twelve runs? Would her thirteenth run be lucky?? Her Jockey Frankie Detorri admitted his nerves before such an event and he took no rides for week before the race! The world waited.

Many believe that Enable is the best race horse we have ever seen. It is difficult to give that accolade to any horse as each season and each generation seem to have a special horse in its ranks. Many have begged for the title of ‘best racehorse’ title. Since the 1970s, we have seen Secretariat, Nijinsky, Dancing Brave, Mill Reef, Oh So Sharp and more recently, Giants Causeway and particularly the unbeaten Frankel among many others. Thus far, before this Arc, Enable has won a massive £9,382,000 in her twelve races. This includes of course two Arcs, a Breeders Cup in the USA, The Yorkshire Cup, (twice,) The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, (twice) The Eclipse Stakes and not forgetting two classics, The English and Irish Oaks. A total of ten Group 1 races. The other thing of note is that jockey Frankie Dettori has been on board for all ten.

At the final declaration and draw stage, Enable was given an easier draw of 9 from a 12 runner field. This is considered a small field, but certainly select. Pre-race, everyone was on tenterhooks, looking to see what omens in past runnings of the race. Only one runner has ever won from stall 9, and that was the great race mare and brood mare Urban Sea in 1993. Other runners expecting to run in the race were Japan, a course and distance winner this year when the Aiden O’Brien trained colt won the Grand Prix de Paris. Kiseki, the Japanese representative has also had a good season, and the Japanese have been targeting this race for decades. Have they one good enough this time? The Charlie Appleby trained Ghaiyyath also was thought to have credentials after his win in the Grosser Preis Von Baden as recently as September, and the outsider, Nagano Gold trained in Czech Republic, who ran a huge race at Royal Ascot in the Hardwick Stakes and probably should have won, but was beaten just by the now retired Crystal Ocean. Would a French trained horse come and spoil the party? On form, before the race it looked unlikely. With the going advertised as ‘very soft/heavy’ (it usually is for this race) everyone waited on tenterhooks to see what would happen?

The Race

Enable in the lead at 50 metres from finish line

The atmosphere at Longchamp was palpable. Even the French seemed quietly to be supporting Enable. The pre-race preliminaries all seemed to go to plan with all the runners. There was a huge intake of breath after Frankie Dettori mounted the filly, and suddenly jumped off, why no one knew but soon he was back on board in the famous Arc parade. The occasion was getting to many of the runners including Enable who was more ‘on her toes’ than usual. All installed, and the race started with a huge roar from the crowd, many from England and Ireland. Travelling more easily through the ground than many thought would happen, all the horses found their positions in the early part of the race. The early lead was taken by Ghaiyyath with one of the Japanese horses Fierement in close proximity. Enable tracked the leaders. Into the straight, the two front runners soon came under pressure and yielded their positions and to another huge roar from the crowd, Enable took the lead and went clear.

Waldgeist wins at line

Suddenly, from nowhere, the Andre Fabre trained five year old Waldgeist, who had been beaten by Enable in the previous two Arcs, swept past the great filly 50 meters from the finish line to win by one and three quarter lengths. Complete silence surrounded the course as the crowd took in what they had just witnessed. Enable had been robbed on the line.

After the race, both John Gosden and Lord Teddy Grimethorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, were stoical about the defeat. They immediately congratulated the winning connections and said that the brilliant turn of foot the filly had was not ever going to be as effective on the ground, ‘but we don’t love her any less’. Asked whether Enable would now be retired to stud, both were keen to say that the decision was Khalid Abdullah’s alone. She still holds entries in races at Ascot on Champions day in a couple of weeks as well as the Breeders Cup in the USA. It seemed fairly clear that had she won the Arc, she would have been retired, but all the connections obviously disappointed may want to see the filly retire from the race course on a winning note.

Pierre-Charles Boudot – winning jockey on Waldgeist after race

The five year old Waldgeist was ridden by French jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, winning his first Arc. This was the eighth time that Andre Fabre had trained the winner of the prestigious race. Waldgeist is owned by Newsells Park Stud in the UK in partnership with Ammerland Stud in Germany. He was bred at Newsells Park Stud and is by Galileo out of Waldlerche by Monson. The third horse home was French bred 3 year old colt Sottsass, by Siyouni out of a Galileo mare.

The irony for the winning owners is that Enable is by Nathaniel, the leading stallion standing at stud at Newsells Park, so as it turned out, they were going to be winners what ever happened!!!!

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