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Yorkshire Oaks: Enable camp wary of "messy race" on her final British start

Wed 21 Aug 2019

Enable is the star attraction at York on Thursday when she makes what is set to be her final appearance in Britain in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

John Gosden’s superstar mare will line up on the Knavesmire in search of a 12th successive victory and her 13th overall from just 14 career starts.

Her incredible winning run has included back-to-back wins in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and two triumphs in the King George at Ascot, as well as high-profile victories in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Coral-Eclipse, the English and Irish Oaks and this race in 2017.

The Frankie Dettori-ridden five-year-old will be a red-hot favourite to add to her top-level tally, before potentially going out in a blaze of glory by becoming the first ever three-time winner of Arc at ParisLongchamp in October.

Gosden, who also runs Lah Ti Dar in the four-strong field, said: “I don’t see it that she’s expected to win at all, I remember seeing Roberto beat Brigadier Gerard here.

“It’s a little bit of a trappy race, you’ve got to work out who makes the running. Four-horse races can be messy and there’s one in there (South Sea Pearl) who shouldn’t be in there, but she is.

“Other than that they are three very good fillies, and Lah Ti Dar is in good form. We’ll play it by ear as you can’t have big plans for a race like that, I’ll leave it to the jockey, he knows the filly and knows the track well.

“If there were eight runners it would be more straightforward, but it could be trappy – if it is, that’s life. The big target always remains the Arc.

“I’ve no real concerns about her coming back from the King George, she’s been in good form at home, Frankie only gave her one flick there, he was waving it (the whip) thereafter.

“I can’t go the whole of August, September and go 11 or 12 weeks without a run, as then she’d run too fresh so she needs a stepping stone and I don’t want to go over for the Prix Vermeille.

“It makes sense to come here, but it’s a prep, I’m not being rude as it’s a Group One race, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a prep for the Arc and is not the be-all and end-all so I’m quite relaxed.”

Enable came out on top in a thrilling finish to the King George with Crystal Ocean
Enable came out on top in a thrilling finish to the King George with Crystal Ocean

When asked if the fact there were only four going to post could prove a problem, Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “Life – and racing – is full of problems – there are no gimmes, especially in a Group One.

“We’re weren’t either asking or expecting that and there are some formidable fillies which we know about.

“She herself is in good form and we’re really looking forward to it.

“When she won this two years ago Frankie was really positive on her and kicked on a long way out. That is the brilliance of Frankie, he can play these things as he finds them so there won’t be any instructions.”

On nerves ahead of the race, Grimthorpe said: “There’s always nerves, if you don’t get nervous you don’t care. Hopefully plenty of people will come to see her.”

Lah Ti Dar landed the Middleton at York in May

Lah Ti Dar has been successful on each of her two previous visits to York – running out a brilliant winner of the Galtres Stakes at this meeting last season and making a successful reappearance in the Middleton Stakes in May.

She was last seen finishing a close-up third behind another stablemate in Coronet in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in late June and connections are under no illusions about the task she faces in this latest Qipco British Champions Series contest.

Simon Marsh, racing and bloodstock manager for owners Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber, said: “They say never be scared of one, but in this case we’ve got to be scared of two.

“We’ve always been keen to run her in the Yorkshire Oaks as she loves York and has been training well. Andrew and Madeline are very excited about it and looking forward to the race, but we all appreciate that with Enable and Magical in the race it’s a big ask.

“Enable is a beautiful, incredible filly and she’s been so fantastic for the sport generally. She’s been absolutely brilliantly handled by John and all the team at Clarehaven and we are very lucky to see a filly of her quality going on and racing at five.”

Magical was denied by Enable in the Coral-Eclipse

Having kicked off her campaign with three successive wins in Ireland, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Magical has since gone down fighting behind Crystal Ocean in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and Enable in the Eclipse, having also got close to Gosden’s ace at the Breeders’ Cup.

O’Brien, who also saddles rank outsider South Sea Pearl, said: “She seems to be in good form, she’s had a little break and she’s just ready to start her autumn campaign.

“Hopefully she will go well.”

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