Superstar filly Enable did all that was expected of her as she made her return to action with a stylish front-running victory in the 188Bet September Stakes at Kempton Park.
The John Gosden-trained four-year-old had not been seen since winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, and all eyes were on Frankie Dettori’s mount in her clash with Sir Michael Stoute’s King George runner-up Crystal Ocean.
Dettori sent her straight to the front and increased the tempo turning for home. Crystal Ocean ranged up menacingly at one stage, but ultimately had no answer to the 8-15 favourite.
In the end three and a half lengths was the winning margin in the four-runner affair for Enable, who will head to ParisLongchamp next month to defend her Arc crown.
Gosden said: “It was a nice race for both of them if you are having a prep for the Arc. I couldn’t be more thrilled with her, it was hands and heels. It was good to see her back, as it’s been a long wait.
“She will come on, she came here 80 per cent and the race will put her right. She is at a good place mentally and the race will put her right.”
On what the road to full fitness has been like for the daughter of Nathaniel since her setback earlier in the season, Gosden said: “She has found it (being out of action) more frustrating than us.
“It really annoys her when the other horses go out on the (Newmarket) Heath to canter and gallop and she has to stay behind – she doesn’t like that at all.
“She is back, let’s hope we can get to the Arc in four weeks’ time.”
Gosden went on: “I was confident she would do that, as she is high class. She loves racing and training. She is a pleasure train. It’s been desperately frustrating for her, because she gets really angry.
“This is a perfect trial. I thought David Probert (on Crystal Ocean) rode a lovely race and he could have attacked us with six furlongs to run, but he was thinking of his horse as well.
“It was lovely to have this race here today. I didn’t want to take her to France for the Vermeille after 11 months off and Teddy (Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah) and I thought coming here was just a lovely race for her.
“She has made all the progress you could want. Her work before May when she came into this problem was exceptional, we were going to race in June in the Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot and the King George, but that never came to be.
“She did put a massive amount of weight on. She got very big, as she couldn’t do anything for six weeks to a month, but she is bit like a Federer or Nadal – she is very strong in the mind and was determined to come back.
“To get the best mile-and-a-half filly you are ever likely to train again back means an awful lot. There have been some long days. We’ve got her back, but the Arc is the big one.”
Dettori reported Enable felt “as good as ever”.
He said: “It gives her more credibility with Crystal Ocean being in the race.
“Her home work had been good, but we hadn’t gone beyond a mile at home and there was always that little bit of doubt in my mind if she was 100 per cent fit, but she is trained by a master. You can always rely on him.
“I’m delighted, she was as good as ever. You’d expect to her improve and it’s all systems go to Longchamp (Arc defence).”
Probert said: “The plan was to follow her early on and he picked up the tempo down the back. I was happy where he was in the race and he was always in a comfortable rhythm.
“Once I stoked him up to sit on her quarters around the four pole he felt to me he could serve it up to her in the straight.
“He responded well to pressure and that will put him spot on for whatever his plan is next.”
Stoute’s assistant James Horton said: “We were very pleased with him. We’ve given a top-class filly 8lb, which is hard to do.
“Frankie had the run of the race, which was always the dangerous thing, but we didn’t want to have a very hard race today so we’ve played our game and maybe the 8lb and a touch of class found us out.
“He is a horse that can’t be raced too regularly and that’s the main reason why we came here today, but we were keen to have a race between the King George and whatever his autumn target is and this race fell right.
“I think he is probably a better horse on turf. We will see about France (Arc).”