Enable’s bid to make history and win a 3rd Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe – and becoming the first horse ever to do so – ended in brave failure as Waldgeist – whom Enable had got the better of in three previous meetings – flew home to win the 2019 renewal and deny Enable victory.
Enable lost nothing in defeat as she finished second, with French Derby winner Sottsass in third.
Although confidence in the filly was high going into the race – both from connections and the betting market – there were some warning signs that not everything was going to plan. Firstly – and probably most importantly – rain arrived in Paris. The weather got into the surface making it Soft going – which, whilst Enable had won on soft ground before, was not ideal for her chances, as the sticky ground took the blistering turn of foot away from her and turn the 1.5 mile trip into more of a stamina test than speed.
But also Enable looked unsettled before the race. Normally cool, calm and collected, it was almost like the horse knew that the pressure was on and history was against her. As the race got underway, jockey Frankie Dettori was working and nudging away at Enable – usually he is sat pretty motionless and lets the horse’s high cruising speed get her into the race and position…but this time it didn’t seem, or feel, natural, and though Enable after half way was where Dettori would have wanted her, it had taken quite some effort.
Even so, as the race progressed, everything seemed good enough. Enable tracked her old foe Magical for most of the back straight, and as they entered the long, sweeping turn towards home, seemed back on the bit – Dettori taking a look behind to see where his main dangers – thought to be Sottsass and Japan – were. Both were travelling well enough but behind Enable, with a few already looking beaten – mainly the Japanese raiders Fieremont and Nagano Gold.
Push started to become shove as the field entered the false straight and entered the last phase of the race. Dettori pressed the button on Enable – and got something of a reaction. Enable took the lead and just for a while looked to have the race at her mercy and it would be business as usual. Sottsass and Japan lead the chasing pack but were kept over a length away as Enable went for home. But driving down the outside was Waldgeist, who under young French jockey Pierre Boudot, had been travelling quietly enough in midfield and waiting for the race to unfurl. Waldgeist moved into second and with every stride ate into Enable’s lead – now desperate for the line to arrive. Though she fought with all she had, Dettori doing all he could to find a little more and bring history home, Waldgeist simply had too much in the locker and passed her with half a furlong to go. He passed the line just under two lengths in front of Enable, who was the same distance ahead of Sottsass in 3rd. Japan finished 4th and these were all well clear of Magical, who managed 5th place. The rest were well spread out and trailed home.
After the race, connections of Enable were gracious in defeat, and all felt the ground had been the key to the result – though took nothing away from the run of the winner. Trainer John Gosden commented : “They went a very, very strong pace in very testing conditions. Frankie looked like he had the race won, but a class horse – a Galileo out of a Monsun mare – he just outstayed us in the ground. I just knew, when the extra rain came, we’ve lost our most potent weapon. She just simply ran out of stamina the last half-furlong. If the ground had been like last year – good to soft – I would have been very disappointed to have finished second, but I literally could see this sucker punch coming and I take nothing away from the winner, who is an absolutely brilliant horse.”
Dettori echoed his trainers comments : “The ground was very sticky and I struggled in the first bit of the race. I let her find her feet. I waited for the final 300 metres but didn’t find as much as I thought she had left. She just folded a bit and the winner was too good.”
Although no decision has been taken about Enable’s future, it seems likely that this was her third and final attempt at making Arc history. Whether or not we will see this magnificent horse under orders again remains to be seen, but whilst there were loud and hearty cheers for Waldgeist winning the 2019 Arc, there were many, many more silent sighs and hearts broken at the defeat. Enable will still go down in Arc history and be one of the greatest horses ever to win the race – but this race proves how difficult a task it is to win three Prix de L’Arc de Triomphes – maybe it is a feat that simply cannot be achieved.
- WALDGEIST – P C Boudot (A Fabre) 16/1
- ENABLE – L Dettori (J Gosden) 4/6f
- SOTTSASS – C Demuro (J Rouget) 8/1
- JAPAN – R Moore (A O’Brien) 6/1
- MAGICAL – D O’Brien (A O’Brien) 12/1
- SOFT LIGHT – Y Take (J Rouget) 66/1
- KISEKI – C Soumillon (K Sumii) 66/1
- NAGANO GOLD – M Barzalona (V Luka) 50/1
- FRENCH KING – O Peslier (H Pantall) 80/1
- GHAIYYATH – W Buick (C Appleby) 17/2
- BLAST ONEPIECE – Y Kawada (M Otake) 50/1
- FIEREMENT – C Lemaire (T Tezuka) 80/1