Mighty mare Enable will face three rivals, all trained by Aidan O’Brien, when she attempts to win a record third King George VI And Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot today (Saturday 25th July) at 3.35pm.
The John Gosden-trained six-year-old, winner of the mile-and-a-half showpiece in 2017 and last year under regular rider Frankie Dettori, will face fellow middle-distance stars Anthony Van Dyck, Japan and Sovereign in the £400,000 feature, which forms part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series.
Enable is the highest-rated horse in the world and has won her connections more than £10 million in prize money. She has ruled supreme in 13 of her 16 races – ten of them in Group 1 company – but her bulging fan club has had to digest defeats in her past two races.
She finished runner-up in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in October, when attempting to become the first triple winner of the race, and also had to settle for second behind Ghaiyyath on her reappearance this month in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
Newmarket-based Gosden, the champion trainer, will be seeking his fifth King George triumph since 2011. He told members of the media on Thursday afternoon, in a Zoom call hosted by QIPCO British Champions Series, that his star performer has derived benefit from her comeback run at Sandown.
Gosden said: “I did try and tell people very clearly beforehand that she was not at 100 per cent, She tired in the last furlong but we were delighted with her run. I was very open with everybody that, being at the age she is now, she found it difficult to getting to race fitness; far more than ever before, even when she came back from injury as a four-year-old.
“She’s always been mentally hardened but what’s changed, with age, is her metabolism. Consequently, she never gained that tightness of the muscle like she normally would, it took her a lot longer. She’s a six-year-old racemare and not that wild, exuberant three-year-old race filly who could just do anything.
“I didn’t want to push her hard for the Eclipse. She knows what she wants to do: she’s very positive and a wonderfully filly to train in that that she is determined to do everything. So I just went with her. I wasn’t going to start pushing her and telling her what to do.
“The race has put her right and her work has been perfect on the Limekilns since. She’s been working with just one other horse, and I’ve let her lead a couple of works to just enjoy that for a change. She comes into this race in very good order.”
Asked if a couple of defeats indicated she may not be the force she was, he said: “I’m of the viewpoint that a Flat horse, if sound and healthy, reaches its zenith at five. I’ve seen that a lot, particularly in America where we tend to race them longer. I still see her at her peak, maybe not quite the peak, but she’s trained beautifully for this.”
O’Brien is also in pursuit of a fifth King George after the previous victories of Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007), Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and Highland Reel (2016).
The serial Irish champion has broken numerous records and only last month became the first trainer to be responsible for eight Investec Derby winners.
However, he has yet to find a horse able to finish ahead of Enable. O’Brien has had 32 runners in races that Enable has contested but she has fended them all off. In total, the master of Ballydoyle has run 19 different horses against her – several clashing with her on a regular basis.
The pick of his pair on Saturday looks Japan, the mount of Ryan Moore, who won successive Group 1 prizes last season – the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris and Juddmonte International. He has finished behind Enable on the two occasion they have previously met, including when third in the Coral-Eclipse last month.
Sovereign made all the running for a surprise 33/1 win in last year’s Irish Derby. Having been off a year, he shaped as if retaining that ability when third to Twilight Payment in the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes last month. He will be partnered by William Buick.
ENABLE –FACT FILE AND BACKGROUND MATERIAL
Born: February 12, 2014
Sire (Dad) Nathaniel
Dam (Mum) Concentric
Breeder: Juddmonte Farms
Owner: Prince Khalid Abdullah
Trainer: John Gosden, aged 69, based in Newmarket. He has trained more than 3,000 winners
Jockey: Frankie Dettori, aged 49. He has ridden more than 3,000 winners in Great Britain
Group 1 wins: 10 – Investec Oaks (2017), Darley Irish Oaks (2017), King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (2017 & 2019, Darley Yorkshire Oaks (2017 & 2019), Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triompge (2017 & 2018), Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (2018), Coral-Eclipse (2019)
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 6
Overall form figures: 1-3111111-111-1112-2
Prize-money won: £10,465,723 – making her one of the highest equine performers there has been
Official rating: 128 – the highest-rated horse in the world
Countries she’s won in: 4 – England (9 wins), Ireland, France (2) and America
Jockeys who have ridden her: 3 – Frankie Dettori (14 times), Robert Havlin, William Buick
Different racecourses won at: 11
Miles run: 21 miles and five furlongs
A HORSE WITH THE KING GEORGE IN HER BLOOD
The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes was first run in 1951 and Enable is seeking to become the first three-time winner of the race. She is already one of only three dual winners after Dahlia (1973–74) and Swain (1997–98).
Enable has more than done her bit to keep the family flag flying in the summer showpiece.
Her sire, Nathaniel, won the 2011 renewal and was beaten a nose by Danedream the following year. Her grandsire, Galileo, scooped the 2001 running, while Galileo’s own sire, Sadler’s Wells, was runner-up in the 1984 running when beaten a head by Teenoso.
Concentric, the dam of Enable, was herself a daughter of Sadler’s Wells and her dam was Apogee, who’s grandsire Ile De Bourbon, scooped the 1978 King George. Ile De Bourbon? His sire was none other than Nijinsky, the 1970 winner.
ENABLE’S PREVIOUS KING GEORGE VICTORIES
2017: 10 ran. Going: good to soft. Odds: 5/4 fav
Enable had won the Irish Oaks just a fortnight earlier but came out of the race so well that a swift return to action was quickly confirmed.
Frankie Dettori restricted himself to a diet of fish and water in the build-up as she had only 8st 7lb to carry but his sacrifices proved well worthwhile as the filly hit the front two out before powering four-and-a-half lengths clear of Ulysses in rain-softened ground.
Idaho was third with his year-older brother, Highland Reel, occupying fourth.
2019: 11 ran. Going: good to soft. Odds: 8/15 fav
Enable was unable to defend her crown in in 2018 because of injury but regained it in fabulous fashion – edging out Crystal Ocean, at the time the highest-rated horse in the world, by a neck after the pair had a great tussle for much of the final two furlongs.
Dettori did not panic at the start, when caught wider than ideal in rear, or at the finish, when he did not resort to the whip.
Waldgeist, from France, kept on well to finis third and would gain his revenge in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the autumn to thwart Enable winning that race for a record third time.
HAS ANY HORSE PREVIOUSLY COME CLOSE TO WINNING THE KING GEORGE THREE TIMES?
The last two-time winner, Swain, was retired to stud at the end of the 1998 season and so never got the chance to try and complete his hat-trick.
Dahlia did seek to complete her treble in 1975 but had to settle for a distant third behind Grundy and Bustino in a memorable contest often referred to as the Race of the Century.
She had been a brilliant six-length winner of the 1973 running and was also impressive when retaining her crown 12 months later under a motionless Lester Piggott.
Dahlia stayed in training as a six-year-old in 1976 but raced exclusively in America.
THE KING GEORGE: IF ENABLE PULLS IT OFF…
- She will be the first triple winner of the race
- Become only the second six-year-old to win. The other was Swain in 1998
- She will have 11 Group 1 victories on her CV – edging her past the mighty Enable and leaving her just one behind 1970s legend Brigadier Gerard
- She will join a select group to have won at least one Group 1 race in four successive seasons
- Give Frankie Dettori a record-equalling seventh success in the race after Lammtarra (1995), Swain (1997 & 1998), Doyen (2004), Enable (2017 & 2019). Lester Piggott also rode the winner on seven occasions.
- Be John Gosden’s fifth winner in the race since 2011 after Nathaniel (2011), Taghrooda (2014), Enable (2017 & 2019). His father, Towser, won with Aggressor, who defeated a top-class filly in Petit Etoile in 1960
- Give Gosden a second multiple Group 1 Ascot winner in the space of a few weeks. Only last month, his Stradivarius won the Gold Cup for a third successive year.
- Give Prince Khalid Abdullah’s a fourth win in the race. He also won with Dancing Brave in 1986.
- Become the eleventh winning favourite of the race this century – assuming she is the market leader.
ENABLE’S CLASHES WITH THE BEST OF THE BEST
Enable has either beaten or, in defeat, finished ahead of 54 horses who were Group One/Grade One winners at the time, or who have subsequently gone on to win at. the highest level.
Here’s the full list: 1 Anthony Van Dyck. 2 Arklow. 3 Benbatl. 4 Blast Onepiece. 5 Brametot. 6 Capri. 7 Channel Maker. 8 Cheval Grand. 9 Cloth Of Stars. 10 Coronet. 11 Crystal Ocean. 12 Danceteria. 13 Defoe. 14 Deirdre. 15 Desert Encounter. 16 Dschings Secret. 17. Fieremen. 18. French King. 19 Ghaiyyath. 20 Glorious Empire. 21 Hi Happy. 22 Highland Reel. 23 Intricately. 24 Iquitos. 25 Jack Hobbs. 26 Japan. 27 Kew Gardens. 28 Kiseki. 29 Magical. 30 Magic Wand. 31 My Dream Boat. 32 Mustashry. 33. Nezwaah. 34 Order Of St George. 35 Quarteto de Pardos. 36 Queen’s Trust. 37 Rhododendron. 38 Robert Bruce. 39 Sadler’s Joy. 40 Sea Of Class. 41 Seventh Heaven. 42 Silverwave. 43 Sixties Song. 44 Sobetsu. 45 Sottsass. 46 Statono Diamond. 47 Study Of Man. 48 Talismanic. 49 Ulysses. 50 Waldgeist. 51 Way To Paris. 52 Winter. 53 Zabeel Prince. 54 Zarak.
AIDAN O’BRIEN’S ELUSIVE QUEST TO MASTER ENABLE
Serial Irish champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has broken numerous records and only last month he became the first trainer responsible for eight Investec Derby winners. But he has yet to find a horse able to finish ahead of Enable.
O’Brien has had 32 runners in races that Enable has contested but she has fended them all off.
In total, the master of Ballydoyle has run 19 different horses against her – several clashing with her on a regular basis. Magical has run five time s against Enable, while Alluringly and Hunting Horn crossed swords with her on four occasions.
O’Brien ran five against Enable in the 2017 and 2018 renewals of the Arc. And in last year’s King George he had four representatives.
On Saturday, he tries again via Japan and Sovereign (Anthony Van Dyck is a non-runner).
The full list of 19 O’Brien horses (11 of them winners at the highest level) to run against Enable have been: Alluringly. Rhododendon. Pocketfullofdreams. Rain Goddess. Idaho. Highland Reel. Order Of St George. Winter. Seventh Heaven. Capri. Kew Gardens. Nelson. Magical. Hunting Horn. Anthony Van Dyck. Magic Wand. South Sea Pearl. Japan.
EUROPE’S HIGHEST-RATED EQUINE EARNERS OF ALL-TIME
(Enable is the only top earner still in training)
Thunder Snow – £12,671,800
Enable – £10,465,723
Highland Reel – £7,513,355
Cirrus Des Aigles – £6,179,490
Treve – £6,002,918
Gloria De Campeao – £5,927,616
Dunaden – £5,271,584
Found – £5,058,029
Red Cadeaux – £4,998,408
Postponed – £4,995,979
THE WORLD’S HIGHEST-RATED EARNERS
(Enable is the only top earner still in training)
Winx – £14,564,743
Thunder Snow – £12,671,800
Gun Runner – £12,238,136
Gentildonna – £12,224,036
Orfevre – £12,185,908
Kitasan Black – £11,454,079
Enable – £10,465,723
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
£10,465,723 – prize-money won
128 – her official handicap rating. No horse in the world is rated higher
54 – Group 1 or Grade 1 winners that Enable has beaten or finished in front of
32 Aidan O’Brien-trained runners (19 different horses) in races that Enable has run in. None have finished ahead of her
19 rivals defeated in her past two King George victories
16 – races she’s run in
14 – times that Dettori has ridden her
13 – victories
12 – races in succession she has started favourite
11 – different racecourses she has won at
10 – Group 1 wins – the same as Frankel
4 – countries she has won in: England (9), Ireland, France (2) and America
4 – horses who have finished in front of Enable: Shutter Speed, Raheen House, Waldgeist, Ghaiyyath
3 – different jockeys have ridden her – Frankie Dettori, William Buick and Robert Havlin
Article courtesy of QIPCO British Champions Series. Photo by Ian Yates www.eyewhy.co.uk
About QIPCO British Champions Series:
QIPCO British Champions Series showcases 35 of the UK’s finest Flat races, including three of the world’s top five. The Series features at all of the UK’s most iconic Flat festivals, from the Derby and St Leger, to Glorious Goodwood and Royal Ascot, presenting unparalleled, quality racing across 10 of the country’s finest racecourses.
The Series exhibits world-class sporting action across five different categories – Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Fillies & Mares.
Five top-class races mark the climax of the Series on the Ultimate Raceday, QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 17th October, where the world’s best compete at the nation’s richest raceday.
Put simply, QIPCO British Champions Series shines the spotlight on the best horses, the best jockeys and the best racecourses, so that millions worldwide can follow the finest Flat racing.
For tickets to QIPCO British Champions Day on Saturday 17th October go to britishchampionsday.co.uk