Enable has repelled the late charge of Sea Of Class to defend her crown in thrilling finish to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.
The John Gosden-trained Enable was a brilliant winner of Europe’s premier middle-distance contest last season and and was the dominant favourite to become the eighth dual winner of the Arc on Sunday (Monday AEDT), despite an interrupted season.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Enable was always travelling strongly on the heels of the leaders and the packed grandstands roared as she hit the front.
In contrast, having been drawn wide, the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Class was dropped out last by James Doyle and was still a long way off the pace rounding the home turn.
She rattled home once in the clear to set up an epic finish, but Enable had just enough in the tank to claim victory.
“It’s not been the preparation we wanted. It’s been very difficult,” Gosden said.
“She wasn’t at her best today. I’ve had a difficult year with her.
“The ground is a little slick. I’d liked to have seen more rain but she’s got the job done and it’s very much down to her mind and ability.
“She’s a wonderful filly and it’s an enormous sense of relief.”
Gosden raised the possibility of Enable staying in training as a five-year-old in a bid to become the first horse to win the Arc three times.
“It’s great for Prince Khalid (Abdullah, owner-breeder),” he said.
“He wanted to come here and if she’s in good form there’s no reason you wouldn’t try to come again.”
Her victory was a record fifth Arc win for Dettori who admitted he was more nervous than he had been any other time.
“It was my 30th Arc and I was more nervous than ever, not to mention excited, but in the race I found myself in a fantastic spot,” he said.
“I waited as long as I could and at the 300 (metres) she showed her trademark turn of foot.
“It was almighty pressure on all of us. Everybody wanted her to win and I had to get it right. It would be very naive to say that I wasn’t nervous.”
Gosden said no decision had been made about the Breeders’ Cup in Kentucky early next month.
Doyle said the runner-up was gallant.
“She did everything I asked and just cruised through and in another three strides we would have won,” Doyle said.