It will be like Steve Redgrave’s five Gold medals if she wins on Sunday, Frankie Dettori said on ITV’s Opening Show last weekend. It puts into perspective the possible achievement, if Enable can become the first horse to win the Prix de L’arc de Triomphe three times on Sunday.
Our latest blog looks ahead to Longchamp and Enable’s hunt for an Arc Hat Trick alongside reviewing the other 7, two time winners of the prestigious prize.
The race was first run on 3 October 1920 when the three year old British horse Comrade, one of only two foreign raiders won by a length with Australian jockey Frank Bullock in the saddle. In a link to this year’s race the colt was trained at Newmarket by Peter Gilpin, who had named the yard after his filly Clarehaven, who carried 7st 13Ib to win the 1900 Ceserewitch. With his betting winnings Gilpin built Clarehaven stables.
French horse Ksar, winner of the 1921 Prix Du Jockey Club became the first dual winner when he triumphed in 1921 and 1922.
The 1930’s produced two double winners both French in Montrico (1930 & 1932) and Corrida (1936 & 1937), Montrico at 7 remains the oldest winner of the race and had been 4th as a 3 year old in 1928, while the mare Corrida was owned by Marcel Boussac one of the record equalling owners of the autumn showpiece. Corrida’s two victories followed a third place in 1935.
Likewise the 1950’s saw another two dual winners the French bred Tantieme (1950 & 1951) and the legendary Italian trained horse Ribot (1955 & 1956). Ribot a 16 hands bay horse was bred by the famous Federico Tesio but foaled at the English National Stud in 1952. The winner of all 16 of his races, Ribot won the 1956 renewal by a record margin of 6 lengths.
The Irish triumvirate of Lester Piggott/Vincent O’Brien and Robert Sangster were the team behind Alleged, the next two time champion in 1977 and 1978.
The only horse to attempt a third successive win was the French filly Treve. The filly convincingly won the race in 2013 and 2014 by five and two lengths respectively before she came 4th beaten only two lengths behind Derby winner Golden Horn. The win gave the Clarehaven stables based John Gosden the first of his 3 wins in the Arc before Enable’s double of 2017 and 2018.
This year’s 12 runner field, though the smallest since 2007, is a strong one. The three year old generation features Sottsass, the winner of the French Derby (Prix Du Jockey Club) and Aidan O’Brien’s improving colt Japan, the Derby 3rd and Juddmonte International Stakes winner. Of the older horses, Waldgeist trained by the record Arc winning trainer Andre Fabre (7 wins), Goldolphin’s Ghaiyyath and the filly Magical beaten 4 times previously by Enable, stand out.
From the humble beginnings in 1920, the Grand Prix de Paris was the major European race at the time, when rail travel was still restricted in France due to the aftermath of World War One, the Arc is now the most prestigious middle distance turf race in the world.
A race that has seen Sea Bird’s burst of speed in 1965, the brilliance of Mill Reef in 1971 and the last gasp win of Dancing Brave in 1986 is about to stage Enable’s date with destiny on Sunday. As Frankie said on the Opening Show it will rank alongside those once in a lifetime sporting records, the like of Steve Redgrave’s 5 Olympic Golds.
All sports need heroes, the treble winning Red Rum, Arkle, Tiger Roll, Dessie and Frankel have all made that connection with the wider public and Enable has joined that legendary group of equine superstars. John Gosden recently recalled the day when he travelled six hours with his wife Rachel to see ‘Dessie’ win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989. " It was worth it" said John. Those are the days like Sunday which move racing from the back pages to the front pages and as John Gosden said a few weeks ago "whether you like it or not, we are in the entertainment business and so if you can to have horses that capture the imagination as has happened in National Hunt its great when it happens on the flat as well".
Sadly the lure of the covering shed for the top equine talent has meant we don’t get the chance to see Classic winners for long but thanks to Prince Khalid Abdullah, Enable’s owner, keeping her in training as a 5 year old, the racing world has been captivated by her quest this season through wins in the Eclipse, King George and the Yorkshire Oaks towards what could be unprecedented glory.
We wish Enable good luck in running.
Blog by Stephen Wallis Visitor Services.
Photos courtesy of Ed Byrne (Enable photos at Ascot), the Henry Cecil Open Weekend (Enable galloping) and Timeform (Alleged action shot).