Enable repelled the late charge of Sea Of Class to successfully defend her crown in a sensational running of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.
John Gosden’s Enable was a brilliant winner of Europe’s premier middle-distance contest last season and although she missed much of the current campaign through injury, an impressive comeback at Kempton ensured she was a red-hot favourite to become the eighth dual winner of the Arc.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Enable was always travelling strongly on the heels of the leaders and the packed grandstands roared as she hit the front.
In contrast, having been drawn out wide, the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Class was dropped out last by James Doyle and was still a long way off the pace rounding the home turn.
She rattled home once in the clear to set up an epic finish, but Enable had just enough in the tank to claim a popular victory. Cloth Of Stars was third.
Gosden said: “It’s not been the preparation we wanted, it’s been very difficult. I actually had a hiccup between Kempton and here with a slight temperature, so it has not been easy.
“Her blood wasn’t 100 per cent and she missed a piece of work. It was worrying to have a tiny hiccup like that because if you push, at the same time you might lose your filly.
“She wasn’t at her best today. I’ve had a difficult year with her and started with a bit more hair than I have now. Aidan tested us by making it a strong pace. It’s entirely down to the filly and her guts and a lovely ride from Frankie.
“The ground is a little slick – I’d liked to have seen more rain – but she’s got the job done and it’s very much down to her mind and ability.
“She’s a wonderful filly and it’s an enormous sense of relief.”
Gosden raised the possibility of Enable staying in training as a five-year-old in a bid to become the first horse to win the Arc three times.
He added: “It’s great for Prince Khalid (Abdullah, owner-breeder). He wanted to come here and if she’s in good form there’s no reason you wouldn’t try to come again.
“Prince Khalid will make the final decision on whether she comes back and that will be left completely to him.”
Asked about a trip to the Breeders’ Cup, he said: “We’ll see how she is, Prince Khalid will make the final decision, as he always has.
“Give it 10 days – what she has done today off this preparation has been extraordinary.
“It’s been a nightmare getting her here and I promise you she was 85 per cent. But Prince Khalid was here and I had to run.
“Forget about Frankie and me, it’s about the filly and the owner-breeder today. Without them, this game is dead.”
Abdullah’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, said: “She is unbelievable. It is so exciting and it was an extraordinary ride by Frankie, he pressed the button at the right time.
“The other filly came to her and she was getting a little bit tired. She probably needed the race, but what a great job done by John and everyone at Clarehaven.
“For Prince Khalid, it’s truly unbelievable. He’s here today and he’s absolutely loved it. It’s truly an emotional day for everyone.
“She had the dream trip and we were lucky like that. It was an extraordinary horse race.”
“That (coming back next year) will be up to Prince Khalid.”
Doyle said of the gallant runner-up: “She did everything I asked and just cruised through and in another three strides we would have won.
“I thought she struggled slightly with the ground at the start, but it was always going to be hard from that draw. I hope she can come back next year.”
Christopher Tsui, who owns Sea Of Class with his mother, Ling, said: “I am still shaking as the emotions are running high, the way she finished reminded me of Zenyatta.
“When you look at how much ground she made up, it’s easy to say we were unlucky, but in racing these things can happen.
“It’s too early to say about next year, but we shall certainly think about it.”
Haggas said: “She’s got beaten by a champion, Enable is a great horse.
“Maybe people will look back and say the draw didn’t help us. I don’t want to be ungrateful or unsporting, but anyway we hope and expect that we will see her back here this time next year.”
An emotional Maureen Haggas, assistant to her husband, told ITV Racing: “She’s run a brilliant race and we’re absolutely thrilled to bits with her.
“I’m just sad for James, who made such an effort to get the weight off and had done it.
“From that draw she’s run unbelievably well and just didn’t quite get there.
“From where he was drawn he had little alternative really. When we got the draw, I rang my father (Lester Piggott) and said ‘oh, what do we do’? He said ‘don’t change your tactics, drop her out the back and pray’.
“You can’t be disappointed in any way, but I’m sad, for everybody really, as she’s pretty good and she’s got beat.
“She’s had a brilliant year and let’s hope she can come back and do similar next year.”