Connections have nominated a number of factors which will see Enable have her prep for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Kempton rather than York.
It was thought the triple King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner would head north for her British swansong before her bid for an historic third Arc.
The Yorkshire Oaks, a race she has won twice before, was her most likely destination and a clash with Aidan O’Brien’s exciting three-year-old Love.
Enable also had the option of the Juddmonte International over 10 furlongs – but that would have seen her come up against Charlie Appleby’s Ghaiyyath, who in the Eclipse earlier this season inflicted the six-year-old mare’s first defeat on English soil since April 2017.
“The Kempton race (September Stakes) worked well a couple of years ago,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager.
Here's how Enable won the September Stakes in 2018
“Obviously the temptation of York was quite a serious one, but we’ve always made it perfectly clear that the Arc is her main objective.
“Whoever turns up in the Yorkshire Oaks, you are going to have a tough race – it’s a Group One. In theory, she should have a slightly easier task in a Group Three.
“Coupled with that, she’s won an Arc off the September Stakes – so from that point of view, that is a positive, and really we are just trying to give her every chance to get to the Arc in the best possible shape.
“The four weeks’ timing of the Kempton race before the Arc is probably spot on as well.”
As well as being a racing manager, Grimthorpe is chairman of the York race committee – but he spells out that the two roles must never impact on each other.
“My job with Prince Khalid overrules everything – and along with (trainer) John (Gosden), we have to advise Prince Khalid what we think is best for his horses. It’s sad for York – but it’s even sadder that, even if she had gone, there would be very few people there to see her.
“My role with York doesn’t come into it. Much as York is one of Prince Khalid’s favourite tracks, the main thing is to do what is best by the horse.”
The news was broken just before 10am on Monday when Grimthorpe released a statement which read: “Prince Khalid has decided that Enable’s next start will be the September Stakes Group Three at Kempton on September 5.
“As has been stated, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Group One remains her main objective.”
Enable had been 6-4 to win the Yorkshire Oaks, with 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Love halked up at 4-5. She had also been quoted at 7-2 to win the Juddmonte International.
In Enable's absence, Ghaiyyath is now a top-priced 6-4 for the International. William Hill make Love 1-3 for the Yorkshire Oaks.
Enable and Love head the Arc betting, each quoted at 3-1.
One man who was not too enamoured with the decision was Charlie Fellowes, trainer of Prince Of Arran who has had the September Stakes as a target for some time.
He wrote on Twitter: “That’s annoying. I thought Prince Of Arran was going to win the September Stakes.”
Fellowes later added: “I was hoping my tweet might scare Mr Gosden and Prince Abdullah away, and they might decide to change their plans!
“Hopefully it might scare a few others off. It would of course be nice to get his head in front – but a bit like Enable, we’re only running there with a bigger plan in mind. Whereas hers is for the Arc, ours is for the Melbourne Cup.”
For obvious reasons a trip to Australia will be more difficult this season, but Fellowes still hopes it can be done.
He said: “We’ve sent in visa applications for two members of staff, who are likely to have to do two weeks of quarantine, and we’re waiting to hear more.
“There’s a chance we might not be able to send anyone with him – and if that is the case I would send him to a stable in Melbourne where he would run under my name but be under the care of David Eustace, who is a good friend, and Ciaron Maher who have just won the Victorian premiership.
“We are still very much hoping that we can send someone with him. The plan is to go September Stakes, Geelong Cup, which he won last year, and then the Melbourne Cup.
“He’s got an excellent record at Kempton – and while a mile and a half is short of his best against the top horses, he can hold his own at Group Three level.”
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