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Enable and Magical to meet for fourth time in Yorkshire Oaks

20 Aug 2019

The big race at York on Thursday has become an intriguing four-runner clash between runners trained by Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden.

Enable lands the Coral-Eclipse from magical at Sandown. Picture: Ian Headington/

Enable will attempt to add another chapter to her glittering success story in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York on Thursday.

The five-year-old mare, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by John Gosden, is seeking her twelfth successive win and, if triumphant, will equal Frankel’s haul of ten Group One victories.

She is a general 1/3 favourite to beat three rivals in the £425,000 QIPCO British Champions Series contest. It has boiled down to an intriguing showdown between Gosden, who also runs Lah Ti Dar, and Aidan O’Brien, who will saddle Magical and South Sea Pearl.

Enable won the Investec Oaks, Darley Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes, Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a three-year-old. Last year, despite her season being truncated by injury, she won a second Arc before becoming the first winner of the France’s biggest race to go to on glory at the Longines Breeders’ Cup in America.

This year she has continued to thrill her bulging fan club with further wins in the Coral-Eclipse (only the third of her sex to win the race) and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (only the third dual winner). In the latter, she prevailed by a neck after an epic battle with Crystal Ocean, the world’s highest-rated horse, who runs in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York tomorrow.

Thursday’s mile-and-a-half event looks to represent her most straightforward assignment since she won the corresponding race two years ago by five lengths at 1/4, although Gosden will be taking nothing for granted as his Taghrooda was beaten at 1/5 in the 2014 running. A year later, his brilliant Investec Derby winner, Golden Horn, also suffered a shock defeat at the meeting.

Enable has evidently frightened off some opponents but, unperturbed, O’Brien and Coolmore have opted to supplement two-time Group 1 winner Magical, who scooped the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day  at Ascot last year, plus the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in June.

Magical has finished behind Enable the three times they have met since October, although there was only three-quarters of a length between the pair in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the same margin in the Coral-Eclipse. South Sea Pearl, winner of a Listed race at Leopardstown in July, will also represent Ballydoyle.

Another potential banana skin for Enable is her stablemate, Lah Ti Dar who is owned by Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber and is out of Dar Re Mi, who won the Yorkshire Oaks a decade ago for them.

Dar Re Mi, who was trained by Gosden, was herself sired by Singspiel, the 1997 Juddmonte International winner, and Lah Ti Dar has kept the family flag flying high at York – winning the British EBF & Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes by ten lengths at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor meeting last year, before returning to the Knavesmire in May to scoop the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes.

On her most recent start, Lah Ti Dar was a close third to Coronet in the Grand Prix de-Saint Cloud. She filled the same place behind Magical in last year’s QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, having previously been runner-up in the William Hill St Leger.

“They say never be scared of one, but in this case we’ve got to be scared of two,” said Simon Marsh, racing and bloodstock manager for the Lloyd-Webbers.

“We’ve always been keen to run her in the Yorkshire Oaks as she loves York and has been training well. Andrew and Madeline are very excited about it and looking forward to the race, but we all appreciate that with Enable and Magical in the race it’s a big ask.

“Enable is a beautiful, incredible filly and she’s been so fantastic for the sport generally. She’s been absolutely brilliantly handled by John and all the team at Clarehaven and we are very lucky to see a filly of her quality going on and racing at five.”

Marsh added: “Lah Ti Dar is a high-class filly and has been knocking on the door in Group 1 company. She showed she can win a high-class race over a mile-and-a-quarter in the Middleton but I think she’s more effective over a mile and a half. She was spectacular when she won the Galtres last year and hopefully she will again give a good account of herself.”

Lah Ti Dar will be ridden by William Buick, who has enjoyed big-race success for the Lloyd-Webbers in the past aboard the likes of Dar Re Mi and The Fugue. Injured earlier in the year, the 31-year-old will be riding in his first Group 1 race in Britain since the QIPCO 1000 Guineas on May 5.

Looking further ahead for Lah Ti Dar, Marsh said: “There are some lovely races for her in the autumn. The first one is the Prix Vermeille but that comes quite quick after York and then there’s the Prix De Royallieu at the Arc meeting plus the fillies and mares race on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot.

“She’s got a pretty got constitution and is lightly raced this year but we will take it one race at a time. John will have a plan.”