Horse & Hound

Sottsass secures the win

Full of drama before it even began, this year’s race goes to Sottsass, as Enable is left out of her comfort zone


THE most dramatic moment in this year’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in France came at 9pm the night before when, with consequenc­es which go far beyond the race, Aidan O’Brien announced he was withdrawin­g all four Ballydoyle runners because of a contaminat­ed batch of feed.

On the face of it, the loss of Mogul, Serpentine, Sovereign and Japan made Enable’s task (a record third Arc) easier but, counter-intuitivel­y, Enable’s trainer John Gosden’s heart must have sunk when he heard the news, because with that announceme­nt, all the pace went out of the race.

For Enable to win, she would have to overcome not only the heavy ground but a sprint finish and, in the end, that conspired against her sporting attempt at history. With hindsight there is also the very real possibilit­y that the winner, Sottsass – who was just behind Enable in third last year – has gained strength from

three to four, while she may have lost a little from five to six.

The writing was on the wall as far as a record third Arc was concerned when jockey PierreChar­les Boudot set the tempo for a Sunday afternoon drive round Longchamp on Persian King – that he finished third is testament to Boudot’s ride. But Cristian Demuro – an Italian like Frankie Dettori – had Sottsass beautifull­y placed just behind the pace. Although he was level with Enable when the inevitable two furlong sprint began, in that ground it was the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Siyouni colt who had the gears.

He quickened away from the pack and had done enough to beat In Swoop – Francis Graffard’s three-year-old, who could also have done with a stronger gallop, having just the fifth start of his career. He was only really beginning to roll as the line approached to go down by a neck. Of course, the inevitable reaction this side of the Channel was the post-mortem into Enable’s disappoint­ing sixth place, one in front of Stradivari­us – her stable companion and the only other British runner.


“I WENT to make the running but for the first 200m she was out of her comfort zone,” explained Dettori, Enable’s jockey. “She came good to me later and at the 500m mark I got a good spot but there was nothing there. She couldn’t pick her legs up, like the last furlong last year.”

John Gosden watched the race from home. “Frankie said the ground was deep, holding and drying out – we could have done with a shower of rain,” he said. “Frankie never felt comfortabl­e, I thought he might go on but he chose not to. With Aidan’s runners in the race it wouldn’t have been a trot and a dash.

“Pace and the ground, it’s as simple as that – it’s not very complicate­d. That is horse racing, pace and conditions are always key factors. Sometimes they work in your favour, sometimes they don’t. But I’m very pleased to see Jean-Claude win it.

He added: “Enable seems great afterwards, she didn’t blow hard and we’ll see what her owner now wants to do. Stradivari­us was the same, he likes a target and was three wide throughout, he was having a play afterwards. They’ve both gone to France for a lovely piece of work in horrible ground,” he quipped.

Lord Grimthorpe, Enable’s owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, had no regret about the attempt. He added: “It’s been a huge bonus having Enable for another season. Expectatio­n was enormous but to win a third King George on its own is something fantastic. Three King Georges, two Arcs, a Breeders’ Cup, Eclipse, an Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks, Irish Oaks – it’s an extraordin­ary CV.”

The winning trainer, JeanClaude Rouget, who was assistant trainer to Ian Balding and Paul Cole in England in his youth and is based at Pau and Deauville, had been planning for this year’s Arc ever since Sottsass finished third behind Waldgeist and Enable a year ago.

“This year [because of the delay to the start of the season] we had problems to build the best programme for him, but I was encouraged by his run, two lengths behind Magical, in the Irish Champion Stakes,” he said.

Decisions about the futures of both Sottsass and Enable are expected to be made when the dust has settled on the 99th

Arc. The Breeders’ Cup and the breeding shed are among Sottsass’ options, while saying Enable did not have a hard race left the door ajar for one more hurrah for her but, one imagines, after finishing unplaced for the first time in her career that will be it.

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 ??  ?? Sottsass’ connection­s celebrate the French-bred Siyouni son’s win
Sottsass’ connection­s celebrate the French-bred Siyouni son’s win
 ??  ?? “She was out of her comfort zone,” says jockey Frankie Dettori of Enable’s
performanc­e – the pair finished sixth
“She was out of her comfort zone,” says jockey Frankie Dettori of Enable’s performanc­e – the pair finished sixth
 ??  ?? Sottsass claims victory by a neck in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, ridden by Italian
jockey Cristian Demuro
Sottsass claims victory by a neck in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, ridden by Italian jockey Cristian Demuro
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