History was created at Ascot on Saturday 25th July when Enable (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori, 4/9 Fav) became the first horse ever to win the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes three times.
The six-year-old Nathaniel mare was previously successful in the mile and a half midsummer highlight in 2017 and 2019. Before today, shared the record of two King George successes with Dahlia (1973, 1974) and Swain (1997, 1998).
Enable’s success was a record-equalling King George triumph for jockey Frankie Dettori, who now joins Lester Piggott with seven wins in the prestigious contest.
It was Sovereign (Aidan O’Brien IRE/William Buick, 12/1), the winner of last year’s G1 Irish Derby, who made the running, with Enable racing exuberantly in second. Travelling ominously well entering the straight, Enable made smooth headway to tackle Sovereign a furlong and a half from home. She lengthened to win by an emphatic five and a half lengths. The 5/2 second favourite Japan (Aidan O’Brien IRE/Ryan Moore) was never able to get competitive and trailed home last of the three runners, a further 11 lengths adrift.
John Gosden commented: “Enable has really, really trained beautifully for this race. I made it very clear to everyone that she wasn’t tuned properly for a mile and a quarter [in the Eclipse at Sandown] at that pace, but the race put her right. I told Frankie to ride her with a lot of confidence and travel for a long as he could, and she did.
“She is back in top order, no doubt about that. We have been thrilled with her at home. I never expect things like that but I was expecting to see that, but life can be full of disappointments.
“I remember great friends like Maurice Zilber, Dahlia – all those great ones that have won it twice, but to win it three times. Enable missed running in it as a four-year-old due to injury, so she is quite some racemare.
“It was a small field but an elite field. These are proper Irish Derby, Juddmonte International winners – those are top G1s and there aren’t many top G1 horses around at any time. I know that this has been a difficult year but at least it was a truly elite race and it was run at a proper pace.
“The Oaks and Derby winner live at Ballydoyle so they are not going to start knocking all their heads against each other.
“Crystal Ocean was a hard nut to crack last year and there a certain Waldgeist was coming at us in third, that was a tremendous race.
“When it came to the Arc, Frankie and I blamed ourselves – we went too hard, we went too soon the sectional times tell that. Waldgeist was beautifully trained and beautifully ridden and they nailed us when we were stopping to a walk in the last 100 metres. But that is life, that is history. I suppose if she had won that day she wouldn’t have been here today, so you can look on the bright side.
“Sovereign went out today – he is an Irish Derby winner – and William just went and then built it, built it, built it all the way. William actually got his fractions perfect – he has stayed on well to finish second. I think it was a great run from the second and I think we have probably stretched the stamina of the third but I wouldn’t know. They are three proper ones and she came here and did it. It has not been easy this year – as I have been clear with everyone – getting her to race fitness but the Eclipse really brought her on.
“The race went perfectly and we were a little concerned, the ground is pretty quick here and I am always worried when you get rain on quick ground that something might lose its hind legs on the bend, but thankfully that didn’t happen; it is the first race we’ve had on the round track today.
“She won it very nicely, Frankie gave her one flick – the older the horses get the more professional and think ‘well I have gone two or three lengths clear I’ll ease up now’, you never quite know if another horse will come at you.
“She has enormous mental strength. You have some horses who just want to please and she just loves going out. When Prince Khalid asked me last year that he was thinking about keeping her in training for one more year, I said that she adores training. If she doesn’t go out first lot, she gets annoyed that she has to wait. She loves going out there and carries herself magnificently – she is a very proud person – and I think to that extent, she has made my job possible. If she wasn’t enjoying it or it was becoming a hardship, we would pull stumps immediately and wouldn’t dream of carrying on. She is up for it and loves it.
“She is a big girl. She had one run at two but was busy at three, when she was a three-year-old filly with a weight advantage and was running through them. Then she sustained an injury at four and only had three runs but it was an Arc and a Breeders’ Cup. Last year, she had four runs and two runs so far this year. It’s not like we have been giving her eight/10 runs a year. I think by not putting too many miles on the clock, we have kept that freshness and exuberance, and that appetite.
“The way she has trained, I was hoping that she would do a Montjeu – I remember him imperiously winning a King George for John Hammond. I thought there was a chance, with the way she was training, she just might do that. There was a hint of that, nothing quite so spectacular, but a hint of it because they are G1 horses.
“We are clear that we have York in our minds. She will be entered in both races [Juddmonte International and Darley Yorkshire Oaks] up there, all being well. That would be an idea if that suits perfectly but I would just like to get a race or racecourse gallop into her before the Arc. I don’t want to from the end of July until the first week of October just training her at home – she knows those gallops backwards and she would get bored. York could be really exciting with an exceptional Oaks winner (Love) going there as well.
“She is a gorgeous filly to be around because she carries herself to well and is such a positive influence to everybody about her. We are incredibly lucky to be with her every day training and Frankie comes in and bribes her with the Polo mints. We are lucky – of course it is a weighty responsibility, but we are very fortunate to have a filly of that ability, of that stature and of that character.
“Prince Khalid is a magnificent owner and a passionate horseman. He knows his pedigrees and it was his decision and his decision alone to keep her in training.
“Prince Khalid is an amazing owner, I am lucky to have trained for him for nearly 40 years, he totally understands his horses, knows his pedigrees inside out and he clearly felt this was a filly who could do it again, it [the Arc] just slipped through our hands last year. The winner beat us fair and square and he, being the sportsman he is and the great breeder he is, since this is a filly, said ‘Lets go again’.
“Frankie and the filly are very fond of each other – he does bribe her with Polo mints! They get on very well, understand and know each other, he feels her under him when she is on song. He helps me very much bringing her forward to racing. We don’t let him on her until she is ready for serious work, but he is very much my right hand in preparing this filly.
“It means a lot [to win today], it hasn’t been easy getting us to this point. We wanted to go to Ascot and decided no let’s go when we know there might be racing in July so we got the two runs in in July.
“For all the staff at home who look after her beautifully, Debbie and Chloe in the barns where they are and all the assistant head people; we love being around her, we are lucky to be around her.
“I find the responsibility quite enormous and it weighs heavy, but what a pleasure to be around a race mare like that.
“She is important to racing, horses like her are incredibly important to our game. She is very popular worldwide, I have friends in America and Australia all watching the race.
“The great thing is you can wear these face masks so no one can see the torture in your face, you are hidden! All they can see is your eyes – as long as you don’t start crying they won’t clock that you are wound up like a ten-day clock.”
Frankie Dettori said: “She is unbelievable. As a six-year-old and John has done a great job to keep her going. Three King Georges has never been done before and now we have try the impossible and go for three Arcs. What a horse, what can you say? It’s no burden to say I love her so much. My favourite girl!
“I spoke to John at length this morning and said I am not going to break her stride. Obviously, Japan is the horse to beat but, if he wants to follow me, I have no problem with her because she is very versatile. She is amazing and made it look so easy. She is six, so she is no spring chicken and, to put up a performance like that is great.
“She is so consistent and I love her. It is very sad that I am only going to be on her for another couple of months. She has touched my heart.
“Obviously, we knew Sovereign was going to make the running and it was a bit of a cat and mouse situation with me and Ryan for the first couple of furlongs. He was happy to let me go, so I followed the pacemaker and, in fairness, it was a very even gallop. I was trying to time it so I did not hit the front too early and I couldn’t hear a lot, so I looked around and I saw Ryan in trouble. Then it was a matter of hoping that, if I pressed the button, she would pick up and she
“It has never been done before – three King Georges – and I am over the moon. There is a bit of a knot in my throat but the fact that I have only got her for two more months makes me a bit emotional about it.
“The hardest bit was for John and the team to get her interested in the mornings. When she comes to raceday, she comes alive. It took a lot longer this year to get her fit and today you saw the finished article. We have a massive dream to try and win a third Arc, so fingers crossed.
“For racing in general, she has been leading these amazing races for the last three years. People get attached to her, no more than me and Imran (Shawani, groom), who looks after her. We all love her dearly and she never lets us down. If she doesn’t win, she finishes second and has been a model of consistency. She has got this amazing presence and these massive, big ears. She walks with her chest sticking out and you can see it – she gives those vibes to everyone and people are attached to her for that reason. I get the privilege to ride her and the public are actually riding with me. We really need to cherish these special horses.
“I know it’s a Covid lockdown but the 30 people that are here all clapped. We had a bit of an atmosphere. She has taken me emotionally to places no other horse has taken me. It’s nerve-wracking when you are riding her because you want everything to go right. That’s why she is so special because we have had a tremendous time together around the world for the past three years. It will be very hard for me at this stage of my career to find one like her. I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. Hopefully, we will get to see her a couple more times, so let’s enjoy it.
“It took a long time to get her back this year. She has been in Newmarket for four years, going up the gallops, and she knows exactly what’s going on. John tried different things – we took her to the racecourse, we worked her in front, we worked her behind, we worked her with company, a variety of different things to get the fire back. That is why John Gosden is a great trainer; he does things outside the box, and we got her back. I was pleasantly surprised after the Eclipse when I rode her work – she was a different horse.
“I love her so much. She has taken me to emotional heights no other horse has. She is the only horse I ride from the yard; I spoil her with Polos. I don’t know whether she really recognises me or not, but she eats them no matter what! I’ve become friends with her. She knows she is good, and I am trying to enjoy it as much as we all are. She is wonderful.
“This kind of race is always hard to win. Of course I approach it with great thinking and perspective; I know I am riding the top-rated horse in the world so there is pressure, there is nervousness, but I’ve been doing it for so long that I try to use that energy to my advantage. When you have a performance like that – the only thing that was missing today was the crowd; I would have really loved that, but it is what it is, and we are racing.
“She isn’t getting better, but she is the same. You could see her enthusiasm – it was plain to see today that she is thriving on her racing. If she showed any sign of weakness, the Arc would be a non-runner, but she has showed that she is still very competitive. The dream really – three King Georges is amazing – but it is really about the Arc. With a performance like this, we’re still in with a shot. She is giving me the same vibes that she did last year. When you go to the Arc, it is hard, but at least we know, with this kind of display, that we can be really competitive.”
3.35pm King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) 1m 4f
1 Enable – John Gosden 6-9-04 Frankie Dettori 4/9 Fav
2 Sovereign – Aidan O’Brien IRE 4-9-07 William Buick 12/1
3 Japan – Aidan O’Brien IRE 4-9-07 Ryan Moore 5/2
Distances: 5½, 11
Time: 2m 28.92s
Coming into the race, Enable had already won a record amount of prize money for a European-trained filly or mare. Following her historic victory, her earnings now stand at just under £10.7 million.
In addition to her record three King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes wins, the result saw her become the joint oldest winner of the King George as a six-year-old alongside Swain (1998).
Enable has now won 11 G1 contests and is owner Khalid Abdullah’s winning-most G1 horse (she was previously shared the honour of 10 G1 wins along with Frankel).
Jockey Frankie Dettori has now emulated Lester Piggott’s record of seven victories in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes.