John Gosden is not one for showing his emotions, but part of him will be tinged with sadness after watching stable star Enable in the flesh for the final time on a racecourse.
As the privileged few in attendance at Kempton on Saturday witnessed the superstar mare take what are likely to be her final strides on a British track in the Unibet September Stakes, so too did her esteemed Newmarket handler.
With the current travel restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gosden, like her many admirers, will not be at ParisLongchamp on October 4 to witness her bid to claim a record-breaking third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
But while Gosden is likely to have to make do with a view on television from the comfort of his own home, it is a decision, although a tough one, he has come to terms with.
Gosden said: “The way the rules are right now there is no way I’ll be able to be there. I can’t, because we start the yearling sales at Newmarket the following week. I wouldn’t be too good locked in the house for two weeks, that wouldn’t be very good to my owners that.
“It is very likely, and possible, that I’ve watched her in the flesh for the last time, but only one man decides on that – her owner-breeder (Khalid Abdullah). What he says goes.
“You don’t want to get emotional about it, as you have got to build up to the Arc, but we can have a drink after that. One of sorrow or one of joy.
“It is great to see her today, as I wanted to run her here. I’m sorry there can’t be a crowd here, as there was two years ago, but c’est la vie.”
Making big decisions with future targets in mind is often what sets Gosden apart from his peers, as Enable’s latest victory in the same Group Three prize she claimed on the way to her second Arc success in 2018 demonstrated once again.
Gosden said: “I was very clear the problem with York is you build up to a big race there and that is a proper preparation, then you have got to let her all the way down, as York is in the middle of August, to come back seven weeks later.
“This way I’ve been able to build up to a race of this nature without fully cranking her and allowing the race to bring her on.
“I did make it clear I’ve enormous respect for the Oaks winner (Love) and I knew if I went to the Knavesmire, I don’t know who would have won, but my goodness they would have both had a hard race. I did not want a hard race seven and a half weeks before the Arc.
“That would not be a clever way of going to the Arc.”
Enable’s latest assignment may have been no more than a glorified racecourse gallop, but Gosden believes it was the ideal preparation ahead of arguably the toughest test of her glittering career.
He added: “I’m quite happy where we are today and what we wanted to achieve. That is mission accomplished as I sit here right now.
“I think at her age it has to be her toughest race. At three they are bold and nothing matters, they have youth. It is tougher the older she gets and she is carrying the weight and you are getting new kids on the block all the time.
“It is a huge ask to do it as a six-year-old, but as long as she is all right over the next 10 days then it is game on.”
Even the very best feel pressure, and Gosden admits he will be no different in the lead up to Enable’s date with destiny in Paris.
He said: “I feel it, of course I do, but as I joked earlier you have those masks on and nobody knows you are. It is a responsibility, a big one, but I’ve got a very understanding owner who has bred horses all his life, so he understands.
“I’ve got to manage Frankie (Dettori) as well as he gets emotional, sometimes too emotional.
“She is a pleasure to be around, she has got a wonderful attitude. She is very proud and everyone enjoys being with her. She is great company.
“My favourite time in the yard is to walk around there when no one is there in the evening. I can go around and we can go through a few Polo mints and no one is there.”
With retirement for Enable looming on the horizon, Gosden knows his time with daughter of Nathaniel is limited. However, having seen her final preparations all go to plan he hopes she can now deliver what her entire season has been built around.
He said: “She has been amazing. It’s a bit like those great tennis players being there for every Grand Slam. It is hard to be there. She has been injured, had surgery, came back here to run against Crystal Ocean.
“You have got to give it to her for physical and mental strength, and that is what I admire most. I admire the longevity of high-class performances.
“She came close last year (in the Arc) and we will do our best to try to put that right, but what she has done already with all the races she has won is pretty extraordinary.”