Five Things We Learned: History is against Enable in the Arc

Enable warmed up for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with victory in the Group 3 September Stakes.
Enable warmed up for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with victory in the Group 3 September Stakes.

Nick Seddon looks back on a busy weekend of racing across the globe, and picks out five things we learned with the final two months of the season in mind…

The Pinatubo conundrum is yet to be solved

Sunday’s feature was the Group 1 Prix Moulin at Longchamp over a mile, and although the field consisted of just six runners, it was about as strong a field as you’ll find for this division - akin to the line-up we saw in last month’s Sussex Stakes. With Mohaather now retired, we saw the vast majority of the best milers around, and the short-priced favourite was Pinatubo, the standout juvenile from last season. Plenty has been said about Charlie Appleby’s charge, and his defeats in the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace have brought about a suspicion that he doesn’t quite stay a mile, much like Too Darn Hot two seasons ago - something which was supported by his success in the Prix Jean Prat over seven furlongs in July. This felt like judgement day for him as a consequence, though the make-up of the race meant that we’re left with more questions than answers. 

Indeed, both Pierre-Charles Boudot (Persian King) and Ryan Moore (Circus Maximus) set a strong pace on their mounts, and while the latter began to flag in the closing stages, Persian King kept finding, and earned some redemption in the process. However, it was impossible not to have the eye drawn to Pinatubo, who showed an excellent turn of foot to make plenty of late ground (ultimately in vain) on the winner. The clock tells us that he should have won decisively, as Jamie Lynch explained on Sky Sports Racing below, and it leaves a feeling of unfinished business over a mile for Pinatubo. A mile is clearly right at the tip of his stamina reserves, but there’s a lingering feeling that there is a top-class performance in his armoury when everything falls into place. He seems likely to go to the Breeders’ Cup, though a rematch with his Royal Ascot conqueror Palace Pier in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes would be one to savour. Palace Pier comfortably dispatched of both Persian King and Circus Maximus in tricky conditions at Deauville last month, and in the absence of Mohaather, he will head to Ascot having inherited the title of being the best in the land.

History is against Enable in Paris

The September Stakes was unlikely to tell us too much about Enable, and as the market suggested it would be, it proved to be a walk in the park as she warmed up for a tilt at history in next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The fact that she swerved an engagement in last month's Yorkshire Oaks - and a match-up with the three-year-old Love - in favour of this was disappointing, though her connections have stressed time and time again that her main target is Paris, so with that in mind it would make no sense to provide her with such a tough race at this stage of the season as a six-year-old.

The road which has been mapped out to the Arc for her means that there's an element of scrutiny about the level of opposition Enable has faced on her last two starts, and while she's done very little wrong in her three outings so far this term, history tells us that winning the Arc for a third time will be an almighty ask. Indeed, along with the obvious stat that we've never seen a three-time winner of the race, no six-year-old has ever won the Arc - though we have seen one seven-year-old winner, Motrico in 1932.

This doesn't look the strongest of renewals of the Arc in terms of depth, something backed up by the fact that the stayer Stradivarius is so prominent in the market, though the shoe is very much on the other foot this time around for Enable, and it will be some feat to concede 7 lb to Love, who looks potentially top-class. We'll have to wait another month to find out who comes out on top in that particular match-up, but the statistics are against Enable, and there's a lingering feeling that the ship could well have sailed 12 months ago - when Waldgeist spoiled the party. 

Oisin Murphy is not far off from being the best in the business

Such is the wide-open nature of the sprinting division at the moment, that the top level races are being won on fine margins, and Oisin Murphy again showed that he is most certainly a man for the big occasion when striking on Dream Of Dreams in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday. It was a case of seventh time lucky at Group 1 level for Dream Of Dreams, who’s long shown plenty of ability, and things are now seemingly clicking into place as a six-year-old. He enjoys cut in the ground, which means things will likely play into his hands at next month’s Champions Sprint at Ascot, and he will head there now as the one to beat. Also victorious at the weekend was the fast-improving Starman, who we’ll mention in greater detail later, while the July Cup winner Oxted will be keen to make up for lost time after missing Saturday through injury.

Meanwhile, Murphy will miss this week’s St Leger Festival at Doncaster, but he looks a certainty to win a second straight Jockeys’ Championship with a lead of 26 at the time of writing. There are still some big names who you’d put alongside Murphy at the moment when talking about the best in the business, particularly messers Dettori and Moore, but Murphy isn’t far off now, and he will be confident of racking up some more top level successes before the turn of the year. 

Have a second look at the Garrowby Stakes

The pick of Sunday's action on British shores came at York, and the listed Garrowby Stakes over six furlongs told us plenty. The field was a particularly strong one, and was headed by the in-form Dakota Gold, who had struck in the previous month's Beverley Bullet down the road from York. He ran perfectly well in pursuit of a double at listed level, pulling clear of the remainder of the field, though he could well have bumped into a future Group performer in the form of the Ed Walker-trained Starman. The three-year-old is unbeaten in his three starts so far, and he looked a top-class prospect with the way he was able to put a smart field to bed in the closing stages.

Connections have hinted that he will swerve the Champions Sprint if the ground comes up soft, but he has time on his side, and he will be a sprinter to follow next season. Meanwhile, time seems to be running out for Mums Tipple, who disappointed for the fourth time in a row this season. He produced one of the most breathtaking victories York has ever seen when winning a valuable sales race at last year's Ebor Festival, though he's yet to get near to that level of performance since, and the suspicion is that he may not have trained on as a three-year-old.

The Triple Crown remains one of the toughest tests of a racehorse

The topsy-turvy nature of this season is such that we could be talking about the British version of the Triple Crown ahead of Saturday's St Leger, a feat which is rarely attempted these days, though Saturday evening saw the second leg of the American version, in the form of the Kentucky Derby. We'll never see another year where three-year-olds are asked to start in the Belmont Stakes and finish in the Preakness, and it could be argued that this year represented the best opportunity we'll ever see for a Triple Crown winner; bearing in mind that the Belmont was run over the shorter distance of nine furlongs, and the three races are spread over a few months rather than the usual five weeks.

The Belmont winner Tiz The Law was a commanding odds-on favourite having backed that victory up with a bloodless success in last month's Travers Stakes at Saratoga, though he found the Bob Baffert-trained Authentic too tough a nut to crack, and the jewel went unclaimed for another year. It proved to be frustrating weekend for anyone siding with the market leaders in the big races Stateside, as Gamine was another beaten odds-on favourite in the previous night's Kentucky Oaks. It's a result which went against trend in the Derby when you bear in mind that six of the last ten favourites have obliged in the Grade 1 contest, but it sets us up nicely for a rematch in next month's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. 

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