Could Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe be the end for Enable?

Sunday at Longchamp developed into a tale of two girls, although racing fans didn’t get the result many had hoped for with Enable failing in her bid to become the first horse to win the coveted Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe crown for a third time ended in defeat.

Little over one hour previous to Enable’s defeat however, history was made when Jessica Marcialis became the first female rider to land a Group One victory in France when she steered 8/1 chance Tiger Tanaka to victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac.

It was a remarkable victory for the Italian-born jockey who balanced motherhood with professional race-riding and she was partnering the Clodovil filly to their greatest success yet as the pair held on determinedly for a three-parts of a length victory over Tasmania.

Kept clear of the trouble that occured behind her, the pair ran out comfortable winners in the end from the French-trained Tasmania, taking full advantage of the scrimmaging behind her which stopped British challenger Fev Rover in her tracks at a crucial moment.

Getting to the front just over one furlong from home, the pair battled all the way to the line for a famous success made all the sweeter by the fact she was riding for her husband, trainer Charley Rossi who trains Tiger Tanaka and the success also gave him his first top-level success.

Given the horse was claimed for less than €24,000 following a win at Lyon Parilly, the Clodovil filly has been a real success story since, winning four of five races under the care of Rossi and progressing rapidly through the ranks prior to landing her most famous victory.

“I want to say to all the mums that we can do it, so to be strong,” Marcialis said when being interviewed post race; while trainer Rossi remarked “It’s fantastic to win this with my wife riding and an owner who’s a friend. It’s a shame there aren’t more people here to see it. It’s magic and my friends are here, which is the main thing.”

It was a remarkable achievement with Marcialis not able to utilise the weight allowance female riders in France are awarded; the allowance isn’t applicable in Group One races so she beat the boys fair and square.

But Sunday was all about Enable and whether John Gosden’s superstar mare could do the impossible and win a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Much of the pre-race hype in the preceding days had talked of an impending showdown between Enable and Love; but heavy rain in the days leading up to the race had turned the ground heavy, forcing Aidan O’Brien to withdraw his 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks heroine Love from the race.

There was further drama however when it emerged that a batch of contaminated feed had been discovered and, following tests the Ballydoyle maestro withdrew all his runners from the weekend’s races meaning the likes of Mogul, Japan, Serpentine and Sovereign would all also miss out from their Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe assignments against Enable.

Their collective loss from the race left a gaping void in where the pace might fall and with an eleven-runner field the contest developed into a tactical contest with Persian King setting only a moderate gallop at the head of affairs.

Enable’s big race jockey Frankie Dettori had his mount in a good spot, tracking the leaders and seemingly travelling well despite the heavy ground. However the steady pace would prove her undoing as when Pierre Charles-Boudot injected some pace into the contest Enable couldn’t muster a change of gear when it mattered in the conditions while she certainly wasn’t helped by being squeezed for room and becoming the meat in a sandwich as rivals edged her out when making their runs for Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe glory.

The interference suffered bore no relevance to the result, with the superstar mare already beaten when it occured while Gosden’s other runner, top-class stayer Stradivarius, was clearly unsuited by the heavy conditions.

Nothing can be taken away from the winner, Sottsass, who ran an excellent race to better his third from the previous year and was immediately retired after the race to stand at stud. No decision though was taken on the future of Enable and afterwards trainer John Gosden wouldn’t be drawn on the issue.

Reported to have come out of the race well, she still holds entries for British Champions Day at Ascot where she features in both the Champion Fillies & Mares’ Stakes and in the Champion Stakes. But will she turn up for either?

Her Longchamp run was the first time she has finished out of the places in her career, but given the circumstances she can’t be harshly judged on that run and she still has plenty to offer. But she owes nothing to anyone having won 12 Group One races in three countries and, if retired, it would be a well-earned rest for the Nathaniel mare.

But, given the circumstance of her defeat, perhaps connections might feel there’s still an air of unfinished business surrounding Enable and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and might be tempted at one last crack at the race next season, following a similarly light campaign to the one she had this term.

Age would not be on her side in such a quest. She’d be a seven-year old next season and only one winner of the Arc has been a seven-year old in its’ legacy, Motrico winning the race back in 1932; it is very much a race for a younger horse and since the turn of the century only two horses aged five or older have captured France’s premier race – Marienbard in 2002 and Waldgeist in 2019.

No-one would argue with Enable’s connections should they elect to draw stumps on the career of the Nathaniel mare after their Longchamp defeat; she’s earned her retirement with her string of top-class victories and we look forward to her progeny.

It is perhaps the right thing to do given British Champions Day might just come too soon after those exertions in France although her adoring public would surely want her to go out on a high, drawing the curtain down on her career with a final win.

We await the decision on Enable’s future with bated breath.



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