HomeGeneralEnable – The World’s Greatest Female Racehorse Retires
October 15, 2020
Enable – The World’s Greatest Female Racehorse Retires
It was on a cold February morning in 2014, a bay filly was born at Banstead Manor Stud in Newmarket. After an uncomplicated birth, the mare Concentric was well, and the gangly foal had suckled for the first time, so the stud groom was able to return to his bed to get a little sleep. Who was to know then, that this filly was to become Enable, many believe the world’s greatest record breaking female race horse of all time?
Bred by owner breeder, Khalid Abdulla under his Juddmonte Farms banner, this filly was inbred to Saddlers Wells by 3 X 2. Her sire, Nathaniel is by the great Galileo who is by Saddlers Wells, and on her dam’s side,
Concentric was also by Saddlers Wells. Has this filly been too inbred to Saddlers Wells to make her a complete nutter, or would other blood coursing her veins have a calming effect? The out crosses to Saddlers Wells came from Silver Hawk, an American bred stallion, as the sire of Nathaniel’s dam Magnificent Style and Apogee, Concentric’s mother, who was by Shirley Heights going back to the great Mill Reef. Well now of course we all know just what a brilliant mating this was.
After spending her yearling days in the paddocks, (she was never going to be entered in any sales,) the gangly filly was sent to John Gosden for breaking and training. As a two year old, she was big and needed to grow into herself, but she did have a run in a maiden race at Newcastle on the all-weather right at the end of the year, where she was ridden by Robert Havlin. She was held up in the nine runner field over one mile before being asked to go on in the final two furlongs, which she did with ease and won by nearly four lengths.
As a three year old, Enable had done well over the winter and was much stronger. Her first outing was in a ten furlong race at Newbury, where she was partnered by William Buick and she came third. In early May, it was thought she just may be a decent filly, and was entered and ran in the Cheshire Oaks, a Group 3. Frankie Dettori took the ride for the first time and she took an early lead in the race which she was not to relinquish. In fact Frankie was even able to ease her down as she passed the winners post. Already carrying an entry for the Epsom Oaks, after this win, this became her next target. There were nine runners and again Frankie Dettori took the ride, in fact he was the only jockey to ride her from then on until her retirement. She was ridden near the front in about third position before she took the lead three furlongs from home. The only other filly able to keep up with her was Rhododendron, winner of the Group 1 Fillies Mile as a two year old. However, she provided no match for Enable who won the race by five lengths. Frankie Dettori said of her afterwards, “that Enable was really decent filly and would get better and better as she grew into herself”
After her Oaks win, the roll started and she was not going to beaten again as a three year old. Her next outing was to Ireland where she collected the Irish Oaks by trouncing the other seven runners and winning by five lengths. The love affair between Frankie and Enable was on. After this victory, Frankie said “Enable is a very special filly and it was so important to ride her – she is a true professional and I think she has improved since Epsom. She has a good turn of foot and put the race to bed”
Within two weeks of her Oaks victory at The Curragh, she was sent to Ascot for the first of her record breaking wins in The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes which she again left her rivals for dead! There were nine of them, including older horses and Highland Reel, the seven times globetrotting Group 1 winning colt. She beat her rivals by nearly five lengths once again, and basically from the front.
John Gosden said of her after the race “as good a filly as I’ve ever trained… she just takes the race by the horns” Even by now, Enable’s place in history was assured. After the Ascot race she went for and won the Yorkshire Oaks, racing from the front and winning by now, her trade mark of five lengths.
Gosden had a wonderful filly with the added pleasure of being able to place her in any middle distance Group 1 in the world – so the next obvious target for her was now the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the world’s richest and best middle distance race on the turf. Confidence was high and owner Khalid Abdulla had to pay a forfeit to run, of a mere 120,000 euros as she did not hold an entry for the race. It was repaid handsomely as she again won, this time by only 2 ½ lengths. She was third into the straight, then quietly cruised into the lead beating the other seventeen runners. After an extraordinary year, Khalid Abdulla announced that that Enable would not go to stud, as would have been expected, but stay in training as a four year old.
It didn’t seem a good idea early in the 2018 season as Enable had a major setback in her training. By September though, she had fully recovered and was given a run at Kempton, which if successful, would allow another tilt at the famous Paris race in October. As she showed in the race, she was back to her old self and winning ways, a second Arc was on the calendar. She was sent off as the favourite of the eighteen runners. Once again she tracked the leaders and took the lead comfortably 300 meters from the line. All was well until Sea of Class came on the outside to challenge her in the last 30 meters with electrifying speed, but Enable just held on at the line. She had now become the eighth horse in the history of the race to win a brace of Arc’s and the first for an English trainer. Enable came out of the race well and it was decided to try for another record.
This time, to win the Breeder’s Cup in America, and become the only horse ever to win both the Arc and Breeder’s Cup in the same year. Frankie Dettori kept her in mid division and when in the final straight, moved to take the lead. Ryan Moore, on Magical, went with her and challenged her the whole way to the line. The pair went eight lengths clear of the rest of the field of eleven runners and at the line Enable was ¾ of a length winner, but it was easily Enables toughest challenge. However, the record was broken and the filly returned to the UK. Even more surprising, Khalid Abdulla announced that Enable would stay in training as a five year old, with the express aim of taking a third Arc de Triomphe.
Enable did not grace the turf again until early July when she went for The Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Again Magical was in the race and again Magical attempted to blunt Enable’s class. However, Enable won by ¾ of a length from a field of eight runners.
Three weeks later, Enable was to have another really hard race in her attempt to win The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot for a second time. Of the eleven runners, Chrystal Ocean looked and was the biggest danger. He was a stallion and was the recent winner of The Prince of Wales Stakes at the same venue. Unusually, Enable was kept nearer the back of the field until the straight when she had it all to do to take on and beat the stallion which she did by only a neck. Her final race before the Arc was The Yorkshire Oaks, which again she won. In the Arc, she was sent off hot favourite. She was kept in about fourth position until the straight when Frankie pressed the button. She cruised the front and looked like winning the elusive third Arc when in the final 20 metres, the Andre Fabre colt Waldgeist managed to speed past her on the line. Longchamp fell into a disbelieving silence, the filly had been beaten, and by a horse who had had no chance against her in previous encounters. However, the triple winner record remained intact.
Enable had by now got her own social media pages and a huge fan club around the world. She was one of those horses who everyone knew about, and to everyone’s surprise, instead of going to stud, her owner Khalid Abdulla decided to keep her in training, again for another tilt at that elusive Arc record. As a six year old, to be fair, she was not going to be as strong and agile as she was in previous years, but her mental attitude was still never in doubt. John Gosden explained very succinctly that the mare was probably only 85% fit and would need the race when Enable took her first start of her season in the Eclipse Stakes once again. She was second beaten by Ghaiyyath, the front running machine of the season so far.
Nevertheless, Enable was entered and ran in the King George again at Ascot. This time on rain sodden ground, there were only two others who challenged the mare. In the race, she settled in second place before once again cruising to the lead to win by her old measure of five lengths. Another record broken – she was now the only horse to win the race three times. She won once more before her final record breaking tilt at The Arc, the September Stakes at Kempton, which she won at more or less a ‘hack canter’.
October 4th 2020, the world’s eyes were once again on the iconic mare. It had rained almost solidly for a week in Paris which made the ground hideous. It was heavy going. There were twelve runners in the Arc and Enable was never happy running in the ground. In the race, she was never placed where she wanted to be and coming into the straight, if not before, the writing was on the wall – there were no extra gears, so Frankie Dettori quite rightly did not push her and she came in a soggy and muddy sixth.
This may have been a sad end to a racing career in which Enable earned a massive £10,724,000 and was the victor of 15 races from 19 starts and 11 of those wins at Group 1 level. She broke records around the world and became a true racehorse great. Another recent iconic mare was Winx, the Australian bred and run world record holder of 25 Group 1 wins of her 33 wins. However, despite Winx’s achievements, which were humungous, all her racing was done in Australia, unlike Enable who won Group 1’s across the Globe. This, in the writer’s opinion, makes Enable, the world’s best and most famous female racehorse to grace any turf ever. Now Enable has retired, it everyone’s hope that she has a long and productive life at stud and produces fillies and colts to maintain her fame and glory.
Upon her retirement, John Gosden was keen to tell everyone how her success was due to her courage and guts, but also to a whole team of people around her who were able to make all this happen. He particularly praised Enable’s groom, who looked after and rode her most of her time in training – Imran Shahwani.
Images courtesy of: Horseracingnation, Bloodhorse, Pininterest, Livetradingnews, Racingfotos and Racing Post
The editor Bernard Simpson has been involved with horses and the industry for over 40 years. Together with his wife, he bred many flat racehorses including some which were Royal Ascot winners. He is also experienced in equine media using video, photography and journalism. Bernard currently lives in Wiltshire. He and guest authors now present this blog and hope you like our articles.
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