WHEN you think of the world’s best racehorses, what names spring to mind?
Is it Europe’s only Triple Crown winner Nijinsky?
Perhaps you’re a fan of Man O’ War or Secretariat who loved to burn off their rivals.
Then there’s Sea The Stars who preferred to toy with his opposition while Zenyatta, Frankel and Winx demonstrated a freakish level of talent.
These horses weren’t just better than their generation. They were better than most generations.
Raw natural ability blended with consistency which allowed them to perform at their best for a prolonged period of time garnered them legendary status.
I can’t recall the superstars of decades past, but I do remember gathering with family and friends to watch Frankel’s final race.
Some of us woke at an ungodly hour to admire Winx and who can forget the heartbreak we all felt when Mike Smith left it too late on Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic?
These horses mean something more than words can describe. You acknowledge that you’re witnessing history in real-time.
And so, there is another name to add to that list of greats and for once, this isn’t just sporting media getting over-excited or being wonderfully dramatic.
This Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will bring the curtain down on Enable’s incredible career.
The race itself is Europe’s best middle-distance test. Every division of age, gender and geography meet on one stage to battle for what is the 'Koh i Noor' in racing’s crown.
Enable has done it all. From Paris to America and everything in between, this mare redefined what it means to be loved by racing fans. The combination of her regular jockey Frankie Dettori, masterful trainer John Gosden and passionate owner/breeder Prince Khalid Abdulla have not only made her the ultimate racehorse, but those three characters have made her story Hollywood material.
Her record of 11 Group 1 wins and over €11,000,000 in prize money merely tells us her foreword and without delving into her well documented and lauded career, we must ask the question — what are the chances of her becoming the first horse ever to win three Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe’s?
Without my words being swayed by my heart, I truly believe that if this piece of history is ever to be written, Enable is the one to hold the pen.
When she won the race as a three-year-old on soft ground at Chantilly, she had all the allowances and beat Cloth Of Stars, Ulysses, and Order Of St George in what was probably her most impressive display ever.
A year later, the race returned to a renovated Longchamp where Enable carried the age penalty. It was close, but she managed to hold on from the fast-finishing Sea Of Class with Waldgeist back in fourth. The latter rival would prove her nemesis in 2019 on heavy ground, although one could argue that tactics on the day didn’t go her way.
Now a six-year-old, we must examine her opponents and identify which horse is most likely to deny Enable of her fairytale ending. Could it be a horse half her age?
Love has proven herself the best three-year-old filly of 2020 and quite likely the best of her age group regardless of gender.
A Group 1 winning juvenile, Love demolished her rivals in the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, and Yorkshire Oaks. However, when delving deeper, one does notice a lack of depth to each race. Her reputation is obviously based on her manner of victory rather than the quality of each race.
The ground has been a huge talking point all week as it continues to rain over the French capital, heavy conditions look inevitable.
The slowest ground conditions Love has ever encountered was when she finished a well-beaten third behind Quadrilateral in the Fillies Mile last Autumn.
Love is likely to be joined by stablemates Japan (fourth last year), Serpentine, Sovereign, and impressive Grand Prix de Paris winner Mogul. Jean-Claude Rouget seems rather confident in his duo Sottsass (third last year) and Raabihah, while Enable’s star staying stable-mate Stradivarius could prove the ultimate fly in her ointment with Olivier Peslier booked to ride.
All in all, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is too good a race to just revolve around one horse, but such attempts at history are rare and they are such because horses of Enable’s calibre are just as scarce.
Win or lose on Sunday afternoon, racing’s Queen will bid us farewell. Don’t miss history as its being written.