Last seen adding the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) to her glittering resume, Enable begins her quest for an unprecedented Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) three-peat in Saturday’s Eclipse (G1) at Sandown. Seven rivals take her on, most notably Turf runner-up Magical in a mouthwatering rematch.
Trainer John Gosden has given Enable all the time she desired to rev up. Passing on the May 31 Coronation Cup (G1) as well as a couple of possible targets at Royal Ascot, he opted for the 1 1/4-mile feature on the first Saturday in July as the best spot.
Although the timing works for Enable’s comeback, the distance presents a fresh challenge too. The five-year-old mare hasn’t raced at this trip since her sophomore reappearance – which also happens to be the only loss of her career.
Since her third in that 10-furlong conditions race at Newbury in the spring of 2017, the Juddmonte homebred has rattled off nine straight wins over further. Her marquee victories have come over 1 1/2 miles, including the Oaks (G1) and its Irish equivalent, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1), Yorkshire Oaks (G1), the past two runnings of the Arc, and her historic Breeders’ Cup conquest.
The Eclipse serves up another clash with Magical, who has the advantage of sparkling current form around this trip. After starting her campaign with a three-race winning streak capped by the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1), the Aidan O’Brien filly was most recently an honorable second to Crystal Ocean in the June 19 Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot.
Magical will be joined by stablemate Hunting Horn, presumably to be employed in a pacesetting role. Note that Hunting Horn picks up Padraig Berry, who just masterminded the Irish Derby (G1) upset aboard unheralded pacemaker Sovereign. (O’Brien had five Eclipse possibles as of Monday’s entry stage, but the master of Ballydoyle took out Circus Maximus, Magic Wand, and Flag of Honour.)
Sir Michael Stoute is also double-handed with up-and-comer Regal Reality and Royal Ascot flop Mustashry. Regal Reality appeared ripe for a class hike when drawing off in the May 23 Brigadier Gerard (G3) at this course and distance. With Ryan Moore on Magical, Regal Reality gets an eye-catching switch to Kerrin McEvoy. Mustashry is also a course-and-distance winner, having taken last year’s Gala S. in his only try at the trip. Mostly competing at a mile, the May 18 Lockinge (G1) romper failed to shine when seventh in the Queen Anne (G1), and a stretch-out could help.
The Roger Varian-trained Zabeel Prince didn’t do himself justice in the Prince of Wales’s, finding 1 1/4 miles on soft going too tough to negotiate. But conditions are forecast to be much better at Sandown, and he’d been in the form of his life this spring with scores in a salty Earl of Sefton (G3) and Prix d’Ispahan (G1).
Telecaster, coming off the worst race of his life when last in the Derby (G1) at Epsom, is the only three-year-old in the field. Trainer Hughie Morrison is mulling this chance at redemption for the hitherto progressive colt, hero of the Dante (G2) over Too Darn Hot and Japan. Rounding out the cast is Danceteria, third to Regal Reality in the Brigadier Gerard and coming off a new top in the La Coupe (G3).
Aside from the aforementioned trio of O’Brien absentees, the others to bow out at Thursday’s final declaration stage are Addeybb, who needs soft ground, and Knight to Behold.
Although Enable faces a couple of proper rivals in her return, such is her stature that market confidence remains high in the red-hot favorite. Connections are sending positive vibes as well.
“It’s her first run back,” Gosden told Racing Post Monday, “and you know the main target is on the first Sunday in October (the Arc).
“We’ll try and build to that but we’re happy with her. She’s showing her enjoyment in training and her eagerness. Her exuberant nature is back and she has slimmed down a bit. I couldn’t be more happy with her work on Saturday.”
Regular rider Frankie Dettori also discussed Enable’s preparation in an interview for Sandown.
Plans call for the Eclipse to serve as her springboard to the July 27 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.