Enable produced another sparkling display to claim an unprecedented third victory in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.
John Gosden’s superstar mare was narrowly denied in her bid to become the first three-time winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last season – and has been kept in training as a six-year-old with the primary objective of putting that right in October.
However, she first had the chance to make history at Ascot, having become only the third dual King George winner – after Dahlia (1973 and 1974) and Swain (1997 and 1998) – when getting the better of a pulsating duel with Crystal Ocean 12 months ago.
After delighting connections when finishing second behind Ghaiyyath on her reappearance in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago, Enable was the 4-9 favourite to claim her third King George – facing just two opponents in Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Japan and Sovereign.
Ridden by William Buick, last year’s surprise Irish Derby winner Sovereign cut out much of the running – opening up a significant advantage at one stage over Enable and Frankie Dettori and Japan under Ryan Moore.
However, it was clear rounding the home turn that the leader’s petrol tank was beginning to empty – while Dettori remained motionless aboard Enable and was even able to take a nonchalant look over his shoulder to see Japan toiling in behind.
Once given her head, Enable strode clear magnificently and passed the post five and a half lengths clear under her jubilant rider, with Sovereign filling the runner-up spot.
Gosden said: “With Anthony Van Dyck not there, it was obvious Sovereign would set a solid pace, not a mad one. Given Japan has won a Juddmonte International over 10 furlongs, he was always going to ride him to beat us for toe, but it went perfectly.
“I’m always worried here when you get rain on quick ground, because they can lose their hind legs, but thankfully that didn’t happen.
“Her work had been very good leading into this, and she was quite imperious today.
“It’s a pleasure to see when Frankie’s looking round, but if you do it too much you might fall off! She won it very nicely – I think he only gave her one flick.
“As they get older, they get more professional and think once they are two or three lengths clear they can ease up, but you never know if another horse is coming.”
He added: “It was a small but elite field today. There aren’t that many about once Ghaiyyath elected to go to York, and the Oaks and Derby winners live at Ballydoyle. To that extent, the best were on show.
“She trained really well for this. Last year Crystal Ocean was a hard nut to crack, and there was a certain Waldgeist in third, and we know what he went and did (won the Arc)
“On the other hand, if she had won that day in France she wouldn’t have been here today.
“I’d been very open that I let her come in her own time this year – she’s highly intelligent, she doesn’t need me to ask her too much, she brought herself here in top nick today.
“Between her training herself and Frankie training her, sometimes there’s not much room for me!”
Enable looks likely to make her next appearance at next month’s Ebor Festival at York, before her bid for more history in Paris.
Gosden said: “York has always been on the agenda – there are two races (Juddmonte International and Yorkshire Oaks), and we’ll look at both, as we did last year.
“York could be really exciting, with an exceptional Oaks winner (Love) heading there as well.”
Dettori performed his trademark flying dismount in the winner’s enclosure – and was visibly emotional as he reflected on the victory.
He said: “Since the Eclipse, she has really turned a corner. Her work has been good, and her enthusiasm has been back.
“Quietly I was expecting a good performance, but I wasn’t expecting her to win by five lengths against the likes of Japan.
“I’m very emotional, because I’ve only got her maybe for another two months, so every race is special – and I’m really going to enjoy this one.
“It’s three King Georges for her, and I’ve joined Lester Piggott with seven wins.”