Grimthorpe, the long-standing racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, was at ParisLongchamp just over a week ago when the John Gosden-trained six-year-old had to settle for sixth place in her quest for an unprecedented third Arc win, with the heavy French ground taking its toll.
Hopes had been raised of a swansong at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day when she appeared on the Newmarket gallops last week, but she will instead be retired and is booked in for a date with Kingman, who is also owned by Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms operation.
Enable won 15 of her 19 races with her 11 Group Ones including three King Georges, the English and Irish Oaks and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but Grimthorpe believes Chantilly in 2017 provided a special moment.
“I’ve been asked a few times in recent weeks what I think was her best-ever performance. I think the Oaks was the first time that she blasted into the stratosphere,” said Grimthorpe.
“It was a race run in record time through a thunderstorm and she finished five lengths clear of Rhododendron. That really set out her stall as a marker that she was above the average Group One horse.
“Her first two King Georges were special, it’s hard to separate the two, but for me her best performance was her first Arc at Chantilly.
“It was a superb ride by Frankie (Dettori) – he made a manoeuvre early which put her in a great spot so that coming around the bend, you could be pretty confident something good was going to happen.”
The 2019 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes produced a race for the ages, as Enable pipped Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean by a neck after a duel in the Ascot straight.
“Her second King George when she edged out Crystal Ocean was memorable,” said Grimthorpe.
“Depending on how old you are, the King George holds a special place and you remember certain battles – for me it’s Grundy and Bustino, but Enable and Crystal Ocean certainly had elements of that. It was a great tussle. Two great horses and two very good jockeys.
“She was also the first horse to win the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same season. That was the year she didn’t have her first run until September. To do that was pretty special, beating Magical again with the pair well clear.”
There is a tendency in racing to compare eras and while Enable’s record stands up to close scrutiny, an official rating of 128 sees her fall some way shy of fellow Abdullah runner Frankel, who retired with a mark of 140.
However, Grimthorpe does not believe her rating tells the whole story.
“Everyone always talks about ratings and while they are important, what people have to remember is what she gave to racing over five seasons – not many can look her in the eye there,” he said.
“The public following she garnered because of the way she kept coming back is special, but there are so many things that made her special.
“You shouldn’t say these words lightly, but it has been an honour and a privilege just to be around her – she’s meant so much for everyone at Juddmonte, Prince Khalid downwards, she’s given so much.”
Meanwhile, Frankie Dettori was fighting back the tears as he paid his own emotional tribute.
The popular Italian rode John Gosden’s brilliant mare on all but two of her 19 career starts, steering her to each of her two victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and three wins in the King George at Ascot.
The six-year-old was back in sixth when bidding to make history with a third Arc at ParisLongchamp just over a week ago, and Dettori admitted to having mixed emotions after receiving confirmation on Sunday evening that she had run her final race.
He said: “Lord Grimthorpe rang me last night. Obviously I shed a tear as I was a bit emotional. I went to see her this morning. I accept the decision and she doesn’t owe anyone anything. It has been a great journey for three and a half years.
“She has touched my heart and has been one of the great mares of our generation. She has won 11 Group Ones and has simply been amazing.”
Dettori identified Enable’s first Arc success at Chantilly in 2017 as her best performance, while getting huge pleasure out of her second King George victory which came after a titanic tussle with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean last year.
On her first Arc success, Dettori said: “The best performance was the first Arc.
“I knew had the race won by the chateau in Chantilly, she was just in unbeatable form that day.
“The King George against Crystal Ocean stands out – she had every chance of throwing in the towel and she didn’t.
“The Oaks would be the other standout race as that is when she first really burst on to the scene.”
While connections did not immediately rule out running Enable again following her latest visit to Paris, Dettori conceded that deep down he knew it would be the last time he would sit on her back – competitively at least.
He added: “After walking back in after the Arc I was trying to enjoy it, as I knew in my heart it was going to be her last race. It is a tough task after finishing sixth in the Arc to have one more dance, so I half-expected this decision.
“It would have been unfair on her. Maybe she is now telling us something, but she has left the game in one piece and luckily for me she is still in Newmarket, so I can still see her. I will go feed her Polos at the stud, obviously not every day, but when I can.
“I’ve been begging John to put me on her one last time in a morning so I can give her my last goodbye.”
He added: “Her longevity and CV is amazing. I’ve got to stay and ride for another three more years, as she is going to Kingman and I wouldn’t mind trying out the progeny! If they are half as good they are going to be exciting.”
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