Weekly Racing Blog: Heart Over Head - The Covid Arc

Too Much for Enable

Sentimentality is a very strong human trait, but it often leads people to search for answers in all of the wrong places.

At the end of the day Enable was never doing to recapture the Arc again was she? She had already been dethroned 12 months earlier on heavy going, but it was perfectly understandable that people were still clinging onto the notion that she could do so again – the romantic fairytale ending, a glimmer of normality in these challenging Covid times?

Overlooked somewhat in all this “Enable Deflation Mk II” media frenzy have been the accolades that should have been afforded to the trainer of the winning horse Sottsass, Jean-Claude Rouget.

In a career spanning almost 50 years, Rouget has won countless top races, French trainers’ titles, holds the record for the most victories in a season, and has passed 6,000 winners. But until yesterday, he had never won the biggest of them all – the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Here’s what the occasion meant to the humble French maestro:

Third to Waldgeist a year ago, Sottsass picked up nicely and stayed on well to beat the fast closing In Swoop, with Persian King back in third having made all the running. Enable could only manage sixth place while her Gold Cup-winning stablemate Stradivarius in seventh.

Sottsass was also a first Arc winner for jockey Cristian Demuro.

What next for Enable et al?

Just when we all think we have witnessed her very last race, Enable’s longevity appears to be given yet another small extension and she is aimed at one more “last” target.

As I write, there is still no official confirmation that Enable has been retired to the paddocks, but one last hoorah at the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Keeneland has been muted.

Enable took the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs two years ago becoming the only Arc winner ever to follow up at that fixture.

Speaking about Enable after the Arc, John Gosden said: Teddy (Grimthorpe, racing manager) and I will report to Prince Khalid (Abdullah, owner) and he will make the decision whether she has one more race or retires. It will be entirely his decision.”

As for the staying sensation that is Stradivarius, Gosden confirmed that the triple Gold Cup winner will stay in training. He told Sky Sports Racing: “I think Mr (Bjorn) Nielsen is keen for Stradivarius to attempt a fourth Gold Cup.”

The Arc victor Sottsass may well be heading to the Turf himself which could set up a potential showdown between Enable, Love – who was forced to miss the Arc due to the heavy ground, and Godolphin-owned Ghaiyyath. What a race that would be!

Arc Heart Warmers

Naturally the Arc itself dominates most of the headlines over the two-day weekend fixture, however a couple of other uplifting stories came from the equally important Group races held at ParisLongchamp that are worthy of a mention too.

In the first instance, The Prix du Cadran on Saturday delivered one much sought after fairytale story.

From what looked to be an impossible position, Princess Zoe and her young apprentice jockey Joey Sheridan, reeled in long-time leader Alkuin just yards from the line to snatch the two-and-a-half mile stamina test.

Trained by Tony Mullins the five-year-old has had a whirlwind rise through the ranks this season. After winning three handicaps, Princess Zoe took a Listed contest at Galway on her last outing, tempting Mullins to go for the big staying race in Paris.

Cheltenham Plans On Hold

Princess Zoe’s Cheltenham plans have now been put on hold with Mullins hoping to then can return next year for the Arc itself: “Our plan now is to go anywhere there is not firm ground.

I don’t mind good ground. That may even be the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe next year,” he said.

Easy Tiger

Sadly Enable was unable to deliver Sunday’s fairytale, so Jessica Marcialis did that instead by lifting the Prix Marcel Boussac aboard Tiger Tanaka. In doing so, Marcialis became the first female jockey to win a top-level Group One race in France.

The Italian, who resumed her race riding career after becoming a mother, said to reporters: “I want to say to all the mums that we can do it, so to be strong.”