One of the many downsides to Brexit is that we don’t quite know the effect the EU divorce bill will have on the sport of horse racing; in the UK, Ireland in Europe too.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will continue regardless – political peacockery doesn’t seen an end to sport’s most iconic events, although this might be the last time we can enjoy the Arc under present conditions.
So if you are at a loose end this weekend, why not try and get yourself on a last minute plane or train to France before heading to Longchamp: you could bear witness first-hand to horse racing history.
The horse Enable could become the first to win the Arc on three separate occasions, and to make the feat even more impressive she would have done so by winning in three consecutive years.
Remember, this is a race that dates back one century, which just goes to show the scale of the achievements of John Gosden’s mare.
What is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe?
Horse racing is much loved in France, and while they don’t quite have the long history of UK and Irish racing the origins of the Arc can still be traced back to the 1800s.
The big cheeses of French racing had already introduced the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix du Conseil Municipal by the turn of the twentieth century, but yearned for a third thoroughbred race to compliment their elite-level of the sport.
Soon after the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was born, named after a famous monument used to commemorate the victory of World War II, and the first staging of the race was held in 1920.
Today, the Arc is the richest race in Europe, with a prize fund of €5 million shared out with the winner trousering a very handsome €2.9 million of that.
In the century that has followed the establishment of the race, no horse has managed to win the Arc more than twice. Some have made an attempt at the feat – most notably Treve in 2015, who was running prominently throughout her hat-trick race prior to being downed by Golden Horn.
Golden Horn was trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, which brings us nicely back to Enable. The Gosden-Dettori combination has guided the career of the five-year-old so far, and as she hones in on a third triumph in the Triomphe the headline-writers are sharpening their pens (okay: cracking their typing fingers) in readiness for a slice of racing history being created.
Who is Enable?
The offspring of Saddlers Wells and Galileo, who between them won the Derby, the King George, the Irish 2000 Guineas and the Eclipse, Enable is a five-year-old filly that has achieved pretty much everything available to her in racing.
Her dominance of thoroughbred racing began as a three-year-old, when she swept all before her: winning the King George, the Epsom, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks, and finishing up with her maiden triumph in the Arc.
As a four-year-old she was in equally stellar form, taking the September Stakes and achieving another first: winning the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, becoming the first horse to bag the pair in the same year.
In her fifth year, new challengers have emerged in the likes of Crystal Ocean and Japan, but Enable has kicked on and enjoyed more success: the Eclipse, the King George and the Yorkshire Oaks have all been won in some style.
The 2019 Arc may yet prove to be her swansong, so make sure you tale the chance to see this magnificent animal in full flow while you still can on Sunday.
So Can Enable Win the Arc?
With the weight of history against her, can Enable still go on to win a hat-trick of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe titles?
The bookmakers certainly seem to think so, and at odds of 8/11 she is certainly expected to give a supreme account of herself.
The current field size is set at 12, with four runners being withdrawn on Tuesday. More could be declared late on Wednesday, but if it just a dozen entries that take to the Longchamp track then this will be the smallest Arc field in over a decade.
Mind you, there’s still plenty of high-quality performers in attendance. Japan has beaten the outstanding Crystal Ocean in the Juddmonte International, while the Derby winner Anthony van Dyck and the Irish Champions Stakes victor Magical also come under consideration.
A couple of horses that have already impressed on French soil, Sottsass and Ghaiyyath, are also being well supported by the betting market, and Waldgeist, who caught the eye in last year’s Arc, will also be backed in on raceday.
One thing that is a sure bet: the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will be absolutely unmissable on Sunday!