Hankies at the ready: your ultimate guide as Enable has swansong on home soil

Enable and Frankie Dettori made it a second King George win in three years
Enable: the focal point on day two of the Ebor festival at YorkCredit: Edward Whitaker

Thousands will converge on York to witness racing's golden girl Enable bid farewell to Britain on what is sure to be an emotion-charged final start on home soil in Thursday's Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

With her presence on the Knavesmire, there is a sense of history repeating at the north's premier racecourse, which seven years ago to the day rolled out the red carpet for global megastar Frankel for the penultimate run of his unbeaten career.

Like Frankel, Enable carries the distinguished green, pink and white of owner Khalid Abdullah and, just like the former king of the turf, she too has stolen the hearts of racing's legion of followers since her climb to the pinnacle started in the north east on a chilly winter evening at Newcastle in 2016.

Credit: David Cramphorn

She has warmed many a soul with an 11-race unbeaten run stretching more than two years and which includes four Oaks, two King Georges and two Prix de l'Arc de Triomphes, not to mention an Eclipse and Breeders' Cup success.

All good things, though, must come to an end but not before a tilt at a record third Arc in October and not before a hearty farewell from God's Own County as she bids for a second win in the Yorkshire Oaks.

Bar the opportunity for racegoers to have a picture holding the reins by the great mare's head at the specially created Enable 'selfie wall' or enjoying a drink at the Enable gin bar, the track is keen not to make the occasion a gimmick-fest, preferring to let the star of the show do the entertaining on a day dedicated to John Gosden's dazzling champion.

William Derby poses for a picture at the Enable selfie wall
William Derby poses for a picture at the Enable selfie wallCredit: Lewis Porteous

"She's racing's superstar and for probably her last run in Britain to be here is an amazing thrill and I think all the race fans in this part of the world are really excited about seeing her," said the track's chief executive William Derby on Wednesday.

"It was huge when Frankel came here in 2012 and there's a similar feel. There's a real affection for Enable and with the Juddmonte connection and Frankie of course, it has all the elements of a special story."

Special does not really do Enable justice and as Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to her owner, stated earlier in the week, it is as much the public's huge affection for stars like Enable that encourages owners to keep the very best in training. After all, it is the stars who shine brightest for longest that are the ones the fans hold dearest.

Enable is certainly the brightest light in racing's vast galaxy at present and her latest win in a titanic tussle with Crystal Ocean in the King George at Ascot, and the fanfare it created before during and after, displayed better than any words what the sport will miss when Frankie slips his saddle from her back for the final time later this year.

By plane, train, car or foot, the Knavesmire is the only destination on Thursday as the fairest mare of all bids farewell to her home supporters.

Magical could hold the key in fascinating battle

Away from the emotion of Enable's farewell tour the debate over the hard facts and figures of her career rumbles on.

The majority would not hesitate to name her as the biggest name the sport has to offer but when it comes to figures she is officially rated 1lb inferior to Crystal Ocean – toppled by Balldoyle’s Japan in the Juddmonte International on Wednesday – despite finishing in front of him for the second time in her career at Ascot last time.

With just four runners in the Yorkshire Oaks, which could easily turn into a tactical affair, the chance for Enable to progress to the top of the rankings pile might have to wait for Longchamp in October, or perhaps it does not.

In Tuesday's Racing Post, the BHA's head of handicapping Dominic Gardiner-Hill explained how the Aidan O'Brien-trained Magical, in her own right a superb filly, had been pivotal in rating Crystal Ocean superior to Enable in the rankings.

Magical: in many ways a key runner in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks
Magical: in many ways a key runner in the Darley Yorkshire OaksCredit: Alain Barr

"Enable beat Magical three-quarters of a length in the Breeders' Cup last year – and again by the same distance off level weights in the Eclipse. So they've reproduced their form to the pound, two different races, two different continents, two different seasons," he explained.

"Yet when we go to Royal Ascot, Crystal Ocean beat Magical a length and a quarter. So there's a very strong collateral formline, and the figures, mathematically, make him a superior horse to Enable."

If Magical can be trusted, as she has done so reliably in the past, to run to the same level of form once more, then Enable in theory has the chance to post a performance worthy of the 'world's greatest' accolade should she stretch further than three-quarters of a length clear of her old rival.

In that regard, Magical perhaps holds the key to the Yorkshire Oaks but could the filly from Ballydoyle go a step further and steal the limelight?

The fact she has been supplemented for the race while the majority have run scared of Enable could easily be read as a statement of intent.

Furthermore, she improved as the season progressed last season and take Enable and Crystal Ocean out of the equation, we would be talking about a filly unbeaten in her last seven starts. Returning to weights and measures, she is also rated just 4lb inferior to Enable.

Whatever she does, Magical could well be the barometer by which the Yorkshire Oaks is measured when the emotions have calmed and the dust finally settles.

Armchair Guide

1.55 York | Sky Bet Lowther Stakes | Group 2 | 6f
Ladies’ day on the Knavesmire starts with the juvenile fillies. Local runner Liberty Beach heads the market after showing a blistering turn of foot to win at Glorious Goodwood and bids to give Jason Hart the biggest success of his career in the saddle.

2.25 York | Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes | 6f
Richard Fahey may again hold the key to this lucrative sales contest and fields five runners as he bids for a third win in the in the last decade. Heading his quintet is Super Sprint runner-up Show Me Show Me, favourite in a field of 22 and out to provide rider Paddy Mathers with a rare big-race success.

3.00 York | Clipper Logistics Handicap | 1m
Traditionally one of the most competitive handicaps of the season and some familiar names are back to try to crack the code. Kynren bids to go one better than last year while Firmament makes a fourth consecutive appearance in the race having won it in 2016 and finished third in 2017 and 2018.

3.35 York | Darley Yorkshire Oaks | Group 1 | 1m4f
Quality over quantity, with showstopper Enable bidding to make it 12 wins in succession on what in all likelihood will be her final run in Britain. Old foe Magical appears to be her chief rival in a field of four, in a race that could turn out to be a fascinating tactical battle with two runners apiece for John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien.

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