When Enable looks to make history by claiming a third consecutive Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe title in October, she will be up against a high-quality field from around the world – that’s a given.
And yet, whispers from racing insiders have been suggesting that her biggest threat could come from much closer to home.
Stradivarius, the extraordinary back-to-back Stayers’ Million champion, is clearly a horse who thrives in longer-distance races, and so the step down to a mile-and-a-half – on paper at least – presumably wouldn’t suit.
But Bjorn Nielsen hadn’t ruled out the possibility of his horse attempting to steal Enable’s thunder….until earlier this week that is, and even then the owner only made the decision based on factors beyond his horse’s capability for the trip.
Frankie’s Tug of War
The American has instead had to put his hopes of Arc glory on hold, for now at least, as Frankie Dettori would not be available to take the ride in 2019.
Frankie has been the cause of numerous aborted Arc attempts, including most famously back in 2017 when Cracksman was navigated away from the trip to France when the Italian jockey was employed elsewhere on a prior arrangement.
The jockey would surely take the ride on Enable, such is the weight of history that could be achieved, and so that would leave Stradivarius looking for a new partner.
And Nielsen has also claimed he doesn’t want to challenge Enable for sentimental reasons, given that his horse is housed alongside the world’s finest at the John Gosden yard.
The owner said:
“He’s [Stradivarius] been entered the last couple of years and it’s in our thoughts, but I wouldn’t do it with Enable around. Apart from the fact she’s very good, Frankie Dettori would ride her, obviously, instead of Stradivarius.”
Nielsen confirmed that his star horse had ‘not really been tried’ over the mile-and-a-half distance, although given the noted turn of pace of his two-time Ascot Gold Cup winner that’s not to say he couldn’t compete over a shorter trip – ‘there’s nothing to say he won’t be as good over shorter’, according to the man closest to him.
No appearance at the Arc means that Stradivarius will be held back for other endeavours, with the Long Distance Cup at Ascot, a favourite stomping ground, likely on October 19. It’s yet another race in which the five-year-old would start as the defending champion.
But if a deluge of rain comes, he might instead be pointed at the Cadran and the Royal-Oak in France, which are likely to be held on faster going.
Nielsen has also confirmed that Stradivarius will enjoy a relaxing winter before heading back into training for the 2020 campaign. Reflecting on another stellar season, he said:
“He’s been an incredible horse for me he really has, he’s something else. He sits in a good position in his races and seems to be able to pick them up whenever he wants; it’s an ideal racing style really.”