Five Things We Learned: The gauntlet is down for Enable

Enable is bidding to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for the third time.
Enable is bidding to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for the third time.

Nick Seddon looks back on a thrilling four days of racing at York, and picks out five things we learned with the final two months of the season in mind…

Ghaiyyath is the best in the business

If it wasn't official beforehand, Ghaiyyath proved in no uncertain terms that he's the best middle distance performer around at the moment with an authoritative display in Wednesday's Juddmonte International Stakes. While he only faced a total of four rivals, it was a race full of quality, with the high-class trio of Magical, Lord North and Kameko all lining up in opposition. We already knew plenty about Ghaiyyath, and he's all about pouring it on from the front, but he's a far more accomplished model this year, and the inconsistency which blighted him over the past couple of years is a thing of the past. Indeed, he was relentless on the Knavesmire, and three Group 1 performers all tried and failed to lay a glove on him in the closing stages.

This was a bona fide top-class performance, and it sets up a difficult conundrum for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin as we head into the autumn. Ghaiyyath is the best around at mile and a quarter, but the suspicion is that a mile and a half will stretch him - as it did in last year's renewal of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. With that in mind, will he head to Paris, or instead look for targets over ten furlongs - such as the Champion Stakes? It could be the latter.

Enable has it all to do in Paris

Speaking of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Love cemented her position as market leader for the Longchamp spectacular with a crushing win in Thursday's Yorkshire Oaks. The story of the race was arguably the defection of last year's winner Enable, and in her absence, Aidan O'Brien's filly took care of matters with the minimum of fuss. It's difficult to assess just how good this crop of three-year-old fillies truly is, but Love has proven herself to be a high-class performer in her own right, and she will be able to take her chance in Paris on highly favourable terms due to the weight-for-age scale as a three-year-old of the fairer sex. She's far from a certainty in what's shaping up into a hot renewal, but five horses from the classic generation have won the Arc since 2010 - and three of those have been fillies.

Meanwhile, we'll find out more about Enable in next month's September Stakes at Kempton, but it was certainly disappointing not to see her on the Knavesmire. She's a six-year-old of course, and it's understandable that both John Gosden and Lord Grimthorpe will be keen to ensure that she arrives at Longchamp in the best possible shape, but their reluctance to face off with Love feels telling - and Enable could well have to produce a career best effort if she is to successfully concede 7 lb to her in the autumn. 

Pyledriver deserves his place in the St Leger

Pyledriver is proving to be one of the stories of the season for his humble connections, and despite being regularly written off, he threw himself right into the mix for next month's St Leger with a thoroughly impressive success in Wednesday's Great Voltigeur Stakes. The Group 2 contest is a recognised trial for Doncaster, a path which was followed by last year's classic hero Logician, and Pyledriver certainly suggested that he'd relish an extra two furlongs judged by the way that he galloped all the way to the line. He accounted for a leading Leger contender in Mogul pretty readily for the second time this season, and this form certainly isn't to be scoffed at, though he could well need a career best effort to topple Mogul's stablemate Santiago

Battaash isn't too far from greatness

We've known for a good while now that when Battaash is on form there are very few horses in training who can match his blistering speed at five furlongs, though he was long blighted by a lack of consistency earlier in his career. Indeed, a blistering run would be more often than not followed by a blowout, but he seems to be a much more refined model as a six-year-old, and he's just one win away from a perfect season after winning Friday's Nunthorpe Stakes.

He had to win ugly on ground which doesn't really suit him, but in doing so we saw a side to him which we perhaps didn't see in the past, and he's now starting to cement his place as one of the best sprinters we've seen this century. It speaks volumes that Battaash was able to perform when his two main rivals on paper - the three-year-olds A'ali and Art Power faltered - and having put hoodos at Ascot and York to bed over the past 12 months, his sights will now be firmly set on conquering Lonchamp - and completing an unbeaten season in the process.  

Enbihaar has found herself a new niche

The absence of the £1 million Stayers' Bonus has arguably breathed some much-needed life into the staying division, as it has persuaded Stradivarius to turn his attentions away from staying trips and to a tilt at the Arc in October. In his absence, we were left with an intriguing renewal of the Lonsdale Cup, which saw Enbihaar announce herself on the scene. She lined up as a four-time Group 2 winner at trips up to a mile and three quarters, and this successful venture up to two miles - again at Group 2 level - has opened up some interesting options for her in the autumn. She defeated some smart performers fair and square here, including Nayef Road, who looked the heir to the throne in the absence of the king - and it would be no surprise should the Champions Long Distance Cup now be on her radar at Ascot in October, where she may even bump into the Ebor Handicap winner Fujaira Prince

York Ebor Festival
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