Special bonds do not come much greater than the one between Frankie Dettori and Enable, as the pair showed again when prevailing in a King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes for the ages at Ascot.
Whenever the Italian gets the leg-up aboard the John Gosden-trained daughter of Nathaniel, he knows he is not just getting partnering another racehorse – more one he now regards more like a best friend.
From giving her Polo mints in her box to exercising her in the morning, Dettori has over time forged a special relationship with the five-year-old that has allowed them to get the best out of each other, highlighted in her latest Group One success.
Her two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victories may be the benchmark victories of her career – but few can argue her latest triumph over Crystal Ocean was her bravest, in a finish that had shades of the titanic tussle between Grundy and Bustino in the 1975 renewal.
Dettori said: “She is extraordinary and she surprised me today. She is an amazing horse in every way – her ability, she is courageous and uncomplicated. I don’t know what to say, she is fantastic.
“I ride her twice a week and I’m forever going into her box and giving her Polos. She is special. She has given me emotion that no other horse has ever given to me in my life.
“She is only with me for another three months, so I’m trying to capture and enjoy every moment. You are probably only going to see her two more times, at York and Longchamp, so let’s enjoy it.
“Not only is she a super mare, she showed what a courageous will to win she has. I don’t want too many races like that, as I’m absolutely exhausted.”
In every great battle there has to be a loser and on this occasion it was Crystal Ocean – a horse Dettori partnered to glory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting and a rival he had plenty of praise for, after helping to serve up the finish of the season.
Dettori added: “Give credit to Crystal Ocean, as he put it out there for me – it was an amazing race. He was one of those flies that wasn’t going away.
“Crystal Ocean was there and he was annoying me until the line. In my career it is probably the hardest-fought Group One I’ve ever had. It was two great champions in the last two furlongs.
“This doesn’t come every day and you might have to go back to Grundy and Bustino (for something similar).”
The relationship between Gosden and Enable may not have the same visual impact as the one Dettori shares with her, but the master Newmarket handler knows just how fortunate he is to have a mare of such quality among his ranks.
Gosden said: “I’m incredibly lucky to train a filly of this quality, a home-bred filly. She is very much the people’s racemare, like Pretty Polly at the turn of the century.
“We are incredibly lucky to have her, but you want to do everything right by her. There is always a weight expectation, but try living without it and that is a bit frustrating too.
“It was a proper King George. I don’t like to describe my thoughts. I’m trying to stay sensible.
“I know she has enormous determination and I knew she would fight back, but it was just a wonderful race. So much of this is mental strength in horses and she really showed it today.
“It was what we wanted, the most amazing race. What more could racing want between two great athletes. It was a bit like the Wimbledon final.”
Though both Dettori and Gosden took the plaudits from the 26,406-strong crowd, the latter was quick to acknowledge the huge part played by owner Prince Khalid Abdullah and his determination to see his pride and joy keep racing.
Gosden, who will now consider pre-Arc options at York for Enable, in the Juddmonte International or Yorkshire Oaks, said: “It’s all about Prince Khalid, who bred her and owns her.
“He said, ‘no, let her race at five’, and she is here winning an Eclipse and King George and aiming at an Arc.
“This is all down to him and it is very important to racing.”