Historic Arc hat-trick remains goal as Enable takes share of world's best prize
Flat racing's final report for 2019 was packed with highs and lows as Pinatubo was named the finest two-year-old to have raced in a quarter of a century but Enable, Crystal Ocean and Waldgeist shared world champion honours with the joint-lowest rating since rankings began more than four decades ago.
A rating of 128 was enough to secure the Longines World's Best Racehorse award for a familiar trio who lit up the track with their sustained rivalries, but it was also the golden number for Godolphin superstar Pinatubo, the juvenile champion by a mammoth margin of unprecedented proportions.
Far tighter was the race for the top, with the connections of Enable handed some compensation for her agonising near miss in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, as she took her slice of a three-way dead-heat alongside her Longchamp conqueror Waldgeist, who had finished third behind the superstar mare and fellow world number-one Crystal Ocean in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
However, while 128 was only enough to match Rock Of Gibraltar's previous benchmark low in 2002, there was even less inspiring news about the 2019 Classic crop, with the 123-rated Arc third Sottsass revealed to be the worst champion three-year-old since the inaugural international classifications in 1977.
Enable, Crystal Ocean and Waldgeist all competed as five-year-olds last season, but while the two males have been retired to embark on stud careers, Khalid Abdullah has offered racing fans the chance of a thrilling narrative to 2020 by giving his mighty mare a second chance to become the first three-time winner of the Arc.
Bookmakers make Enable the 6-1 favourite to avenge her Paris defeat and trainer John Gosden and Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe both had positive news to report on the day the six-year-old was acclaimed in London.
"It's wonderful Prince Khalid has kept her in training, and as long as she continues to be happy and enjoying life, as she is at the moment, we'll keep pointing her towards the Arc,"said Gosden.
"Winning a third Arc would be a wonderful thing to achieve – and nobody ever said it has to be three Arcs in a row! You're allowed to win two, finish second and then come back again.
"Last year we probably underestimated the depth of the heavy ground. We walked the track and we read it wrong. I think everyone went a stride too quick, they all moved too soon and they all paid the price. The last furlong took an eternity because they were walking. Full marks to Waldgeist, who outstayed her in the ground.
"That's life and that's horseracing, but if Enable had won she would probably have been retired. Instead we get to try again."
As was the case last year, Enable's campaign will be geared around the first Sunday in October, but there remains a chance she could make her Royal Ascot debut, having last year reappeared with victory in the Coral-Eclipse.
"She has had a good winter and looks great," added Gosden. "There wouldn't be a reason to rush into the spring because the races aren't there and if you're thinking towards the Arc you probably want to start in June or July. Prince Khalid will obviously make the final decision but Enable is a little inclined to tell us herself."
Grimthorpe echoed Gosden's belief that Enable continuing to race under Frankie Dettori will be a tremendous boost to the sport.
"There was a tremendous wave of support going into Arc and she still ran a fantastic race," said Grimthorpe. "If goodwill had been anything to do with it she could have gone straight to the winner's enclosure. In fact, that was the encouragement to keep her in training because it showed us she remains capable at the top level.
"Prince Khalid is a racing fan and is delighted to share Enable. I think it's great for racing that she has stayed in training. For the good of the sport I hope she will be jumping off the back pages this year."
Grimthorpe also had news of Abdullah's Gosden-trained St Leger winner Logician.
"Logician had a bit of an infection over the winter that we treated but is fine now," said Grimthorpe. "He won't be out early but providing everything now goes straightforward there shouldn't be any issues.
"Given the way he progressed last year I don't see why he shouldn't be effective in top-class races at ten to 12 furlongs. We want to get him to the really super level we hope he might be capable of reaching.
"Stranger things have happened than Logician running in the Arc alongside Enable but that would be up to the Prince. However, I wouldn't imagine the two horses would meet early doors."
Star Hong Kong miler Beauty Generation was fourth in the Longines list on 127, followed by Japan's Lys Gracieux – a sensational winner of the Arima Kinen in late December – America's Vino Rosso and British pair Battaash and Ghaiyyath, who were all awarded 126 and co-fifth position.
Last year's joint world champion Winx, retired following her 33rd consecutive victory in April, was this time bracketed in ninth on 125, alongside Benbatl and Glory Vase.
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