All-star duel: Crystal Ocean a potential Kempton opponent for returning Enable
Last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine Enable could face a tougher than expected comeback on Saturday as the prospect emerged of a tantalising clash with King George runner-up Crystal Ocean.
The four-year-olds were on Tuesday among ten entries for the Group 3 188Bet September Stakes at Kempton, a contest long mooted as Enable's comeback target and which had been expected to provide a straightforward opportunity. The race had been reopened having failed to fill at Monday’s entry stage.
Sir Michael Stoute, the leading trainer in the September Stakes with six wins, did not rule out the possibility of running Crystal Ocean, who followed home stablemate Poet's Word in the Ascot showpiece last time.
Stoute, who won the race most recently with Arab Spring two years ago, said on Tuesday: "Crystal Ocean is among the entries but I need to speak to my owner Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, who is in the US, about plans, so we won't be making a decision about running today."
Frankie Dettori made a rare morning visit to the gallops for second lot on Tuesday to put Enable through her final workout ahead of her much-anticipated return and Gosden declared himself happy with what he had seen.
The four-year-old breezed seven furlongs on the Al Bahathri Polytrack, looking as good as ever as she moved clear of decent handicapper First Eleven.
Gosden said: "Enable is very fresh in every sense of the word and we were pleased with what we saw this morning. It will be nice to get her back on track and the September Stakes falls just right as it's a month before the Arc. Hopefully she can get the freshness out of herself there and all roads then lead to Paris."
It has been a long road back for the filly, whose planned return in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom in June had to be scrapped after she sustained a leg injury in the spring.
Teddy Grimthorpe, Abdullah's racing manager, said: "The most important thing about this race is to get her back on the track really. Obviously it would be very nice to win but it's not the be-all and end- all. Her main aim is the Arc and we hope the timing is right, she's right and this is a means to an end.
"The key is the first weekend in October but don't get me wrong, I don't want to diminish this. It's an important race for her, no question, and she will need to run very well whatever the result. But the most important thing is she gets a good race, gets a good experience and comes out of it well.”
He added: "I don't see why one run should not be enough. She's been in good enough shape and the way she's showing herself suggests she has good enough form to do herself justice on Saturday. Hopefully she comes out of that race well and then goes forward again."
Along with Enable, Khalid Abdullah has Weekender and Finche entered for the September Stakes, although neither will run provided the star filly takes her place.
Enable is Coral’s 4-7 favourite with Crystal Ocean second best at 5-4, and spokesman David Stevens said: "Enable's connections may not have been expecting a rival of the quality of Crystal Ocean to be opposing her on her long-awaited comeback, but that could now be the case. However, such was her domination of last season, we still make her odds-on to make a winning return.”
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