Top 10 Most Popular Horses: Enable Able To Claim 6th

Top 10 Most Popular Horses Of The 21st Century: #6 Enable
Top 10 Most Popular Horses Of The 21st Century: #6 Enable

We continue our countdown of the Top 10 Most Popular Horses of the 21st Century, and move onto the 6th placed horse, an international star who won the lot...

It would be an understatement to say that Juddmonte have had some horses to remember In the last few years, but there is one that reigns above the rest when it comes to success. No, not Frankel, it is of course Enable - the winner of the most Group 1 races and highest earning horse for the prestigious owner/breeders. 

The fourth generation homebred mare is no doubt one of the great stars of horseracing, not only in this country (Where she is the most successful mare of all time) but also around the globe - owing to her multiple Group 1 success’ in four different countries. Though it all started fairly modestly for the daughter of Nathaniel, who, having suffered her first of only five career losses at Newbury, wasn’t even favourite for the Listed Cheshire Oaks on her second start at three.

Enable Stats

The win at Chester would be the start of something rather special though to say the least, and it was clear we were dealing with a potential superstar when she won the Oaks at Epsom, drawing away from odds on favorite Rhododendron in the driving rain. This would be the first of 11 very memorable victories at the highest level, all of which will last long in the memory for the race fan. The Oaks, The Irish Oaks, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe were all on her CV by the end of her Classic season -  a truly remarkable haul of races including two of the most prestigious in Europe - and though injury was to set her back meaning she missed virtually all of the summer season at four - she returned in the Autumn to add another Arc and, not content to put her back into her box after only two races that year, a Breeders Cup Turf over in the States in what was a true stamp of her authority over the 1m4f division. In doing this she became the first Arc winner to land a Breeders Cup in the same season - a feat the likes of Dancing Brave, Trempolino, Sakhee, Dylan Thomas and Golden Horn have all failed in doing.

So what was next for Enable after this? She was now a seven time Group 1 winner, two of them Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe’s, two of them Classics, she had a tough season with only three runs and was about to turn five - retirement? As soon as she crossed the line in America this looked unlikely, with John Gosden smugly saying with a wry smile ‘Maybe she’s getting better’, and to be honest, maybe she was.

The news she would return at five was music to every horse racing fans ears, by now she was a certified star and had that wow factor rarely seen in racing. People would flock to the parade ring to see her and everyone would be cheering her on wherever she went, she was truly the star of the show - and the grand finale was to be an attempt at a never done before third Arc win. Starting the season off with an Eclipse win over 1m2f showcased she still had speed and ability in abundance, and a second King George win put her in the driving seat for the Arc. Of course, we know how this story ends, as thousands of hearts were broken in Paris when she came up just short to Waldgeist in what was her first loss for 898 days - but the upside to this is that connections decided to keep her in training, desperate for that third Arc.

Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic hit so Enable’s final season at six was all behind closed doors, and although through the TV we were watching an Enable on the decline, just getting to see her out there again was an absolute pleasure. The decision to keep her training wasn’t in vain either, as she won her third King George, becoming the most successful horse in the race's history. She would again fall short in the Arc on bottomless ground to younger, fitter rivals, but she had nothing left to prove, and  was duly retired, a decision which no one could begrudge even if selfishly we all wanted to be there for her swansong.

I see Enable as a concoction of all things brilliant which helped make her the world star she was. Her ability on course is the main thing naturally, but her stunning, almost arrogant looks with her distinctive South America looking blaze guaranteed she stood out off the course as much as she did on it. Add in a professor-like trainer who so eloquently spoke of her and a charismatic Italian who adored her more than any of his partners prior, and you have the makings of a star.

It’s a shame we will never get to witness her out there again and couldn’t be there to give her the send off she deserved, but Enable lit up the racing scene for four memorable seasons and provided us with memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Most Memorable Performance

This is by far the trickiest selection we’ve had to make so far for the most memorable performance due to so many to choose from. Her first Arc win was of course special, especially when you consider the field behind her featured the winners of that season’s Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish St Leger, 1000 Guineas and The Oaks to name just a few, and equally her Breeders Cup duel against Magical and second Arc win are just as worthy, but for me her most memorable performance has to be her second King George win against Crystal Ocean.

I’m not even sure I have to explain why, just watching it is enough to make you realise. It was this generation’s Grundy v Bustino, a titanic battle between the two highest rated horses on the planet, slogging it out all the way from the two-furlong marker to the finish. It was impossible to call who would be the eventual winner, both with their head in front at stages, but it showed the absolute grit of Enable to dig in and win it. We had seen her class, we had seen her speed, but we were yet to see just how tough she was - and she showed us that she had that in abundance. 

There is not much in the way of value I can add to this race, the race speaks for itself and if you haven’t at least watched it 50 times since then are you even a true racing fan?! A true sporting spectacle in every sense of the word and without a doubt the best I have ever seen, so I’ll leave you to enjoy it with Simon Holt’s iconic commentary line from that day in July 2019 -  “WHAT A RACE! THAT was a horse race!”

Ranking so far:

10 - Native River

9 - Sea The Stars

8 - Tiger Roll

7 - Hurricane Fly

Today's Racing Tips
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