John Gosden is confident Enable is “ready to put in a big, bold effort” as she bids again for a historic third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.
The brilliant mare suffered just the second of only three career defeats in 18 starts 12 months ago when she was agonisingly caught deep in the final furlong by Waldgeist on rain-softened ground, as she sought an unprecedented hat-trick in the great race.
After owner Khalid Abdullah chose to keep her in training as a six-year-old for another shot at the Arc, Gosden has been clear throughout that this Sunday is the date that matters above all for her and jockey Frankie Dettori.
He is mindful of tough opposition, headed by Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic-winning filly Love and including his own three-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Stradivarius, in a field of 15 following Tuesday’s forfeit stage – with the possibility of supplementary entries on Wednesday.
Gosden is satisfied, however, that he has Enable in the right shape – having begun her campaign by finishing second to Ghaiyyath in the Eclipse at Sandown and then winning Ascot’s King George and the September Stakes at Kempton, as she did en route to Paris two years ago.
Assessing her season so far, he said on Paddy Power’s podcast From The Horse’s Mouth: “I think she’s found it more difficult – she’s older and bigger and heavier, and getting to race fitness.
“I went gently at it – it was a struggle, though, and when I ran her in the Eclipse, I was very clear with everyone beforehand that the race would put her right.
“She went there at 80 per cent, and the race did put her right – she went and won the King George.
“She’s been in good form since – she had a nice breeze round in the September Stakes, nothing too taxing for her because the Arc has been the target all year.”
Unlike two years ago, there have been no hitches since then.
Gosden added: “She’s happy and well in herself – Frankie breezed her on the round gallop on the Limekilns on Saturday and he was very pleased with her.
“It’s still a few days to go – and she’s ready to put in a big, bold effort.
“We’re perfectly aware how tough the race is, and we’re perfectly aware how tough the opposition is.”
With age, Gosden acknowledges, the task facing Enable is a different one.
“I think she was overwhelmingly the best as a three-year-old, getting the weight in her first Arc,” he said.
“The second Arc, she struggled, had an injury, came back (and) won in the September Stakes, then got sick and then went to the Arc.
“She’d missed some work but she hung in there – and last year she ran a blinder.
“I think we all went a stride (too) quick and all moved a little bit soon for the conditions – let’s hope we can go one better this year.
“But we’re totally aware that (with) the favourite (Love, who has drifted to second-favourite behind Enable) getting all the weight, it’s a mighty task giving that weight.
“Having said that, we benefited from it when we were a three-year-old winning the Arc, so we can’t exactly complain now!”
Gosden’s unbeaten 2019 St Leger winner Logician has been taken out of the Arc, and will instead head to Ascot’s Group Two Cumberland Lodge Stakes on Saturday.
Super stayer Stradivarius remains on course to test himself against Europe’s best middle-distance horses, though, having pleased his trainer when runner-up in the Prix Foy.
Encouraged by that performance, Gosden said: “I thought for a horse who’s a Gold Cup winner, he showed great acceleration in the straight – going down by half a neck to Anthony Van Dyck, who seems to have found his form again.
“I thought it was a very good trial from both of them – and the horses behind, the French horses, could never get to them.”
Stradivarius has since been in fine form at home, and Gosden is no longer concerned about the prospect of soft ground.
“I’m very happy with him – he worked well on Saturday, with Rab Havlin on board, and he’s all ready to go,” he said.
“We’ve always thought of him as a top-of-the-ground horse, but he did somewhat surprise us in the Ascot Gold Cup this year.
“So we slightly revised our viewpoint – it seems that he handles most ground.”
Conditions have counted against a European adventure for Logician at this stage, however.
Gosden said: “I think the way the ground’s gone, at the moment I don’t want to put him through that kind of test right now, so he will run in the Cumberland Lodge at Ascot on Saturday.”