The perfect end to the perfect race as Enable lands second Arc
The perfect place. The perfect race. The perfect result. The perfect racehorse. This was an Arc giftwrapped with greatness.
Back home at Longchamp and in front of a new €145 million glitzy grandstand, the pressure was on the world's most prestigious Flat race to produce something special. What we got was something so special that replays will be shown over and over again and no-one will ever get sick of seeing it. It was an Arc for the ages.
Enable defended her crown in the most intoxicating of circumstances but 2018 was light years away from 2017 in every possible way.
Last year's stunning success, achieved with the ease of a filly vastly superior to her peers, arrived at the end of a gruelling seven-race campaign which saw her mop up three Oaks and a King George along the way.
This Arc was ground out on the back of an all-weather spin around Kempton only 29 days earlier. No previous Arc winner had got the job done on the back of just one run in the that calendar year, but this is no ordinary filly. This is a filly whose ability is outweighed only by her attitude.
"It's been a nightmare year, I'm feeling a deep sense of relief – the elation will come later," admitted a visibly relieved trainer John Gosden, later to be hailed a genius by Frankie Dettori. And rightly so.
"It's absolutely massive for the filly," he continued. "It's not easy when they go lame and they're off for a long time. She has such a fantastic mind. It's like a manager with a top player who always gives you 100 per cent. You can build your team around her.
"You're not meant to come into the Arc after one run on the all-weather. I had a slight hiccup between Kempton and here, which wasn't ideal either. She had a temperature and missed a piece of work, and the way the race was run tested her fitness. The last 100 metres were an eternity for me, the jockey and the horse."
Those thrilling final 100 metres might have felt like an eternity for Gosden but they flew by in the blink of an eye for William Haggas and James Doyle as the line came a stride, or two at most, too early for Sea Of Class.
The daughter of Sea The Stars, who this year followed a similar path to Enable in 2017 by winning the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks, trailed the 19-runner pack on the home turn but arrived with her customary late burst, which ended an agonising short neck away from a share of victory.
How fitting to see two top-class fillies fight out the finish to a race which has been dominated by females in recent years. The colts have not been able to cope of late, with only Golden Horn managing to get the boys on the roll of honour in the last eight years. Fillies have won eight out of the last 11 Arcs, going back to Zarkava.
One boy who can't keep away from the roll of honour is Dettori. This was his sixth Arc success, two more than any other rider has managed, and you sense it was his most fulfilling of all.
"I can't believe it, I'm actually lost for words," said Dettori. Luckily for us all he soon found quite a few more to put the performance into context.
"She wasn't the Enable of last year but she has got the job done and that's all that matters," he said. "I said beforehand, 'Let's try to win the Arc and it doesn't have to be by five lengths'.
"This showed what a genius John Gosden is. He's won the Arc with a filly who hadn't run in 11 months. Two Arcs for the same horse at two different racetracks. I don't think that will ever be done again."
Gosden deflected all the praise away from Dettori, and indeed himself, and urged racing fans to realise the importance of owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah.
He said: "It's not about me, it's about the owner-breeder and the filly. Without owner-breeders like Prince Khalid Abdullah this game is dead."
Dettori also helps keep the game alive more than most, and he bounced from interview to interview with as much enthusiasm as ever. He's 47, supposedly. Someone check his birth certificate.
"There was almighty pressure on all of us," he admitted. "The world was behind me. Everybody wanted her to win. I wasn't riding a 10-1 shot, I was riding the favourite in the most famous race in the world. I'm looking forward to watching the replay and enjoying it."
So are we, Frankie. So are we.
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