Enable swerving Love match a worrying sign for Arc swansong

Winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for a record third time is the raison d’etre for Enable staying in training this year.

Already a history maker after landing a third King George at Ascot this summer, she has her spot assured among the equine greats.

If any Flat horse has earned the right to pick and choose where she runs, then it is Enable. However, the news that she would not go to the Ebor Festival for the Yorkshire Oaks en route to the Arc is a blow.

That we won’t get to see a match with Aidan O’Brien trained Classic double scorer Love on the Knavesmire definitely detracts from the spectacle of York.

This year’s Ebor Festival has no Enable, nor fellow John Gosden inmate Stradivarius. A double disappointment for the north’s premier Flat meeting.

Star billing instead stays with sprint king Battaash and the new superstar Irish filly Love. We have, in fact, likely seen the last of Enable on turf in Britain too.

Connections have switched her Arc prep run to the Group 3 September Stakes on the all-weather at Kempton on 5 September. It was the route Enable went down aged four when retaining the Arc.

Given that is her target, and worked out successfully for her two years ago, it makes a lot of sense. What is missing from that, though, is context.

Enable only contested the September Stakes because of a setback during the spring of 2018. It kept her off the track far longer than was intended by connections.

No disrespect to Kempton, but that race was about the only one Enable could run in before the Arc. If Gosden truly feels that the September Stakes gives her the best chance of achieving her goal, then judge him on results.

Is Enable or Love the better Arc bet?

We as punters want competition. Selfish I know, but sometimes it’s the only way to get decent prices out of the bookmakers that we are locked in eternal combat with.

While it will only become clear what is against Love in the Yorkshire Oaks later this week when entries are out, she’s long odds-on to win the race.

Like Enable in the 2018 September Stakes, it won’t be a walkover. The Yorkshire Oaks needs winning but, on the evidence of her Epsom Oaks romp, Love will take some stopping.

ITV Racing
2020-07-04 14:48
Love conquers all! First the Guineas, now the Investec Oaks at @EpsomRacecourse #ITVRacing https://t.co/js7QGVlagC
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If neither are a betting proposition for their Arc prep runs, what about France’s most famous race itself? Certain bookies, 888Sport for example, are 3/1 about each.

More firms have Enable a narrow favourite, but there is no escaping the fact that Gosden and owner Prince Khalid Abdullah have swerved the Yorkshire Oaks.

While coming out and justifying their decision is appreciated, it’s little more than a fig leaf to hide behind. Enable in her prime and at her best would not tremble taking on younger fillies.

On that basis, and when you consider how Arc race terms entirely favour Love, the Irish youngster has more going for her.

No six-year-old has ever landed Longchamp’s legendary race that celebrates the centenary of its founding this year. Then again, no horse had ever won the King George more than twice.

It’s not on Arc race trends that Enable is opposable, rather the fact that she has ducked meeting her main market beforehand. You can see it from Gosden and Prince Khalid’s point of view, but this may be a sign of vulnerability.

The Arc will not be a three-runner race as Enable had at Ascot. “It’s not a race, it’s a monument”, but they’ll build her one if she wins again.

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