Enable to face three Aidan O'Brien horses in bid for King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes history
John Gosden's 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 on Saturday.
The 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 – 10 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.”