December 6, 2021

Enable stretches clear in September Stakes Arc prep

Enable at the 2018 Breeders' Cup (Coady Photography)

Supermare Enable enjoyed a stroll in the park – Kempton Park – Saturday in preparation for her fourth appearance in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). The overwhelming odds-on favorite against five overmatched rivals in the September Stakes (G3), the John Gosden mare posted a straightforward front-running success with partner Frankie Dettori.

The only difficulty came before the race, when Almania needed the farrier to come out and replace a shoe. The field, already at the gate by then, endured a delay of several minutes.

Enable hopped in the air at the start, but not through any idiosyncrasy. As Gosden revealed, she was inadvertently slapped by the stalls handler’s rope, and her recoiling reflex occurred just as the gate opened.

But the two-time Arc heroine had too much tactical speed, and class, for that to matter. Smoothly asserting before the first turn, Enable controlled terms for the duration. The filly Kirstenbosch was her nearest pursuer, although she couldn’t keep within range once Dettori asked Enable to quicken inside the final quarter-mile.

As the great mare showcased her stride to pull seven lengths clear, racecaller Richard Hoiles summed up not only the September, but her career, with an apt phrase: “typically serene destruction.”

Prince of Arran almost caught Kirstenbosch for second, missing by a head in third. There was an eight-length gap back to Almania, followed by Punting and the disappointing Fox Tal. Tinandali was scratched.

This is the second time that Enable has used the September as a springboard to ParisLongchamp. In 2018, the 1 1/2-mile Polytrack affair served as her comeback from an 11-month layoff, and she easily beat Crystal Ocean to set herself up for an incredible Arc repeat second up.

In both 2017 and 2019, Enable prepped with victories in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1). After her Arc three-peat bid was denied by Waldgeist last fall, the now 6-year-old took longer to regain her fighting trim. And that could have been a factor in Gosden’s returning to Kempton, rather than York, for her final stepping stone.

Enable needed her comeback run in the July 5 Eclipse (G1), where she was runner-up to the streaking Ghaiyyath. Nearly three weeks later, the Juddmonte homebred improved to win the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) for an unprecedented third time.

Had she then followed up in the Yorkshire Oaks, Enable would have had a longer spacing to the Arc. The Kempton option gives her a one-month turnaround to Paris that may be more desirable at this stage of her maturity.

The other key point in favor of Kempton was easier opposition. At York, Enable would have had a pitched battle with her biggest obstacle to another Arc success – Aidan O’Brien’s 1000 Guineas (G1) and Oaks (G1) romper Love, who made it a hat trick in the Yorkshire Oaks. There was nothing to be gained by crossing swords with Love before the ultimate prize.

The September stood out as the best chance to get Enable to Paris with a view toward making history as the first ever three-time winner.

Dettori and Gosden offered postrace insights under characteristically astute questioning from Nick Luck: