Once, twice, three times a King George winner, Dettori's 'special lady' Enable in a league of her own

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Frankie Dettori strokes Enable as they celebrate winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at a rainy Ascot
Frankie Dettori strokes Enable as they celebrate winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at a rainy Ascot

Once, twice, three times a lady, Enable and her greatest fan Frankie Dettori are back in the winners' enclosure and dreaming big again, writes James Toney.

Only two rivals lined up against her but Enable's status as one of racing's greatest mares was underlined by a third career victory in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot.

It was her 11th Group One success - Frankel 'only' won ten - while for smitten pilot Dettori it was a seventh win in the midsummer showpiece, moving him level with Lester Piggott.

Whatever comes next Enable's place in the pantheon of legend is long secure, thanks to her double Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe success, Breeders' Cup triumph and collection of big race victories in England and Ireland.

But the weeks ahead could put her in splendid isolation on a plinth of her own. First there is a potential showdown with Aidan O'Brien's brilliant Oaks winner Love and then all boulevards lead to Paris for another crack at an unprecedented third Arc victory.

This Ascot highlight - part of the Qipco British Champions Series - has a tradition for throwing up brilliant finishes, Grundy besting Bustino 45 years ago in a contest dubbed the 'race of the century'.

Twelve months ago Enable's stunning tussle with Crystal Ocean installed itself as the early frontrunner for the same epithet this century and while a routine victory over O'Brien's Sovereign and Japan may not have been so thrilling, the manner of the effortless triumph was equally breathtaking.

"She is back in top order, no doubt about that. We have been thrilled with her at home. I never expect things like that but I was expecting to see that, but life can be full of disappointments," said trainer John Gosden, who was never worried by a second place in her season debut at Sandown's Eclipse Stakes three weeks ago.

"She has enormous mental strength. You have some horses who just want to please and she just loves going out. When Prince Khalid asked me last year that he was thinking about keeping her in training for one more year, I said that she adores training. If she doesn't go out first lot, she gets annoyed that she has to wait.

"She loves going out there and carries herself magnificently - she is a very proud person - and I think to that extent, she has made my job possible. If she wasn't enjoying it or it was becoming a hardship, we would pull stumps immediately and wouldn't dream of carrying on. She is up for it and loves it.

"She is a gorgeous filly too be around because she carries herself to well and is such a positive influence to everybody about her.

"We are incredibly lucky to be with her every day training and Frankie comes in and bribes her with the polo mints. We are lucky - of course it is a weighty responsibility, but we are very fortunate to have a filly of that ability, of that stature and of that character.

"We are clear that we have York in our minds now. She will be entered in both the Juddmonte International and Yorkshire Oaks but I would just like to get a race or racecourse gallop into her before the Arc."

Gosden admitted he and Dettori got tactics wrong at last year's Arc, even if at the time they blamed the ever softening ground for a narrow defeat to Waldgeist in Europe's richest race.

He claimed they went too hard early in the race, meaning Enable was slowing to a walk in the closing stages. This victory at Ascot was the opposite, Dettori nailing his tactics and his charge showing that even at six years of age, her cruising speed and finishing kick remains peerless under pressure.

Dettori has been known to come over a little emotional when discussing his 'special girl', losing himself in superlatives.

And after another ride into the history books, Dettori was firing out one liners like he fires in winners.

"I love her so much. There is a bit of a knot in my throat but the fact that I have only got her for two more months makes me a bit emotional about it," he said.

We all love her dearly and she never lets us down. She has got this amazing presence and these massive, big ears. She walks with her chest sticking out and you can see it - she gives those vibes to everyone and people are attached to her for that reason.

"She has given me emotional heights no other horse has. She is the only horse I ride from the yard; I spoil her with Polos. I don't know whether she really recognises me but she eats them no matter what! I've become friends with her. She knows she is good and I am trying to enjoy it as much as we all are as she is wonderful."

There are 71 days until Dettori's love affair with Enable reaches its final flourish at Longchamp in the city of love. We should enjoy this latest success for a while before wishing those days away but Dettori, he is certainly daring to dream.

"Three King Georges has never been done before and now we have try the impossible and go for three Arcs," he added.

"This is amazing but it is really all about the Arc. With a performance like this, we're still in with a shot. She is giving me the same vibes that she did last year. When you go to the Arc, it is hard, but at least we know, with this kind of display, that we can be really competitive."