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Champions Series Stars To Stud: Enable

2 Dec 2020

In the first of our Stars To Stud features, we look at the Queen of Racing who heads to the breeding sheds after a monumental career on the track

Horse: ENABLE

Trainer: John Gosden. Owner: Prince Khalid Abdullah Regular jockey: Frankie Dettori

Races: 19. Wins: 15. Group 1 wins: 11. Highest Official rating: 128. Prize-money: £10,724,320

Form in Champions Series races: 11111121.

OVERVIEW:

Enable established herself as one of the greatest mares to have graced the turf during a wonderful career that spanned five seasons.

She won 11 Group 1 contests – seven of them in races that fall under the QIPCO British Champions Series umbrella – and conquered the best in England, Ireland, France and America.

The John Gosden-trained filly/mare became the first horse in history to win three renewals of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (2017, 2019 and 2020)  and joined an elite band to twice win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2017 and 2018).

A record third Arc success proved beyond her – tantalisingly so in 2019 when overhauled late on by Waldgeist after looking she had looked sure to win – and her official rating peaked at 128 but her exploits and longevity made her stand out from the crowd.

She became the first Arc winner to go on and win at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in 2018 (she landed the Turf) plus won two Classics (the Investec Oaks in 2017 and Darley-sponsored Irish equivalent) plus landed two renewals of the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (2017 and 2019).

For good measure, she became only the third of her sex to win the Coral-Eclipse (2019). Her CV also includes a couple of wins in the Group 3 September Stakes on the all-weather at Kempton.

Enable won on all kinds of surfaces and all kinds of tracks. Curiously, her first 11 wins were all achieved at different racecourses.

She was also versatile regards tactics and, like any top athlete, overcame adversity. A knee injury suffered early in 2018 kept her off the track for almost a year at one time but she returned as brilliant as ever.

No wonder Frankie Dettori adored Enable. He rode her in all but two of her 19 races and on many occasions was little more than an exultant passenger.

SEASON ONE – 2016

The summer passed Enable by before the Juddmonte Farms homebred, a daughter of the top-class Nathaniel out of Concentric (herself by Sadler’s Wells), made her debut in a mile maiden fillies’ stakes at Newcastle in late November.

Sent off at 7/2, she was always travelling well and won by almost four lengths under Rab Havlin without being anything like fully extended.

SEASON TWO – 2017

Enable began the year by finishing a staying-on third to Shutter Speed, her much better-fancied stablemate, in a conditions race at Newbury. She would not be beaten again until the autumn of 2019.

She was a commanding winner of the Cheshire Oaks on her next start and then reeled off successive wins in the Investec Oaks (by five lengths in a record time), Darley Irish Oaks, QIPCO-sponsored King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Darley Yorkshire Oaks and then Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Her five Group 1 wins were won by an aggregate of 22 and a half lengths. She was simply on a different plane to her rivals.

SEASON THREE – 2018

It was announced in May that Enable had suffered a training setback, having some filling in her knee.

As the season rolled on without her, there were fears that she might not return but belatedly she reappeared on September 8 – showing her powers were still intact with an emphatic defeat of Crystal Ocean in the Group 3 September Stakes at Kempton.

The following month she retained her Arc crown, albeit by a fast-diminishing short-neck from Sea Of Class, before travelling to America and winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf from Magical, who was to become a regular foe. No Arc winner had previously gone on to triumph at the meeting.

SEASON FOUR – 2019

Enable picked up from where she left off – winning the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park on her return before regaining her King George crown after a fabulous tussle with Crystal Ocean.

A routine second success in the Yorkshire Oaks looked to have teed up perfectly for the Arc and she went off ½ to win it for a record third time.

History was within her grasp when she led inside the final furlong but she was unable to fend off the late thrust of Waldgeist.

Most assumed it would be her final race but soon afterwards it was announced she would be kept in training as a six-year-old.

SEASON FIVE – 2020

Like the previous year, Enable reappeared in the Coral-Eclipse but this time she had to settle for second behind front-running Ghaiyyath.

It at least confirmed she retained all her zest and 20 days later she easily went one better at the expense of two rivals in the King George – becoming the first horse to win the famous race on three occasions.

Her connections used the September Stakes at Kempton as a final stepping stone to Longchamp and Arc and she won by seven lengths.

Enable went off at 9-10 for her fourth Arc but finished a below-par sixth – a slow gallop and extremely deep underfoot conditions counting against her.

There was some talk afterwards that she might have one final run but a week or so later it was announced she had run her final race.

HER FINEST MOMENT:

Enable’s exploits ended up resembling a Greatest Hits album and everyone will have their own personal favourite. So let’s bend the rules here and nominate her three record-breaking triumphs in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

It seems unlikely to be a record matched or surpassed for a long while. Perhaps never.

Enable routed her rivals in the 2017 edition and regained her crown in 2019 (she had missed the summer of 2018 through injury) with a pulsating neck defeat of Crystal Ocean, with subsequent Arc hero Waldgeist back in third.

Then on a rainy summer day this year, behind closed doors, she rewrote the record books in becoming the first horse to win the great race a third time.

She was faced by only two rivals, both trained by Aidan O’Brien, and went off the 4-9 favourite. She did not need to be at her best, especially with her main rival Japan underperforming, but there was no denying her majesty as she breezed past front-running Sovereign over a furlong out and eased five and a half lengths clear.

WHAT THEY SAID:

“Enable has retired happy and sound after an extraordinary career. We all here at Clarehaven Stables have been very fortunate to be with her for the past five years and to appreciate her strong character and athletic prowess. Her daily presence has been a joy and her record in Group Ones including four Oaks, three King Georges, two Arcs, an Eclipse and a Breeders’ Cup Turf is a marvel and unprecedented.” John Gosden on Enable’s retirement

“She has touched my heart and has been one of the great mares of our generation. The best performance was the first Arc. She was just in unbeatable form that day. The King George against Crystal Ocean stands out – she had every chance of throwing in the towel and she didn’t. The Oaks would be the other standout race as that is when she first really burst on to the scene.” Frankie Dettori offers his reflections

“I’ve been asked a few times in recent weeks what I think was her best-ever performance. I think the Oaks was the first time that she blasted into the stratosphere. It was a race run in record time through a thunderstorm and she finished five lengths clear of Rhododendron. That really set out her stall as a marker that she was above the average Group One horse. Her first two King Georges were special, it’s hard to separate the two, but for me her best performance was her first Arc at Chantilly.” Lord Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager of owner Prince Khalid Abdullah

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM HER OFFSPRING?

It does not automatically follow that brilliant racemares make brilliant broodmares, and vice versa.

But if Enable’s progeny are half as good as she is, then they will not be doing too bad!

She had just about everything plus was apparently blessed with a great work ethic and temperament at home.

And, of course, she is going to be visiting the top sires – starting with Kingman, a wonderful miler who has quickly established himself as a leading stallion at Banstead Manor Stud.

Any foal with Enable as their Mum and Kingman as their Dad is evidently going to have a headstart in life, although expectations will be high.

You cannot imagine Enable breeding many sprinters, for all that she did not lack pace. Her stock should come into their own over a mile and more.

Let’s hope the years ahead provide many more chapters to her enchanting story.