Champion Trainer John Gosden is looking forward to bringing back to York the outstanding Enable for the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday 22 August.
The five-year-old mare, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, has become a racing superstar over the last three seasons, winning 11 races on the trot.
Nine of those successes have been at Group 1 level, including the 2017 renewal of the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, which she landed by five lengths from stable-mate, Coronet.
This season has already seen her triumphing in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, followed up by a memorable win in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month.
Connections have long outlined that the big target is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which Enable will attempt to win for an unprecedented third straight season.
Newmarket-based Gosden said: “We are pointing at the Yorkshire Oaks – we were keen to stay at a mile and a half, rather than coming back in trip again – and obviously trying to use it as a springboard to the Arc.
“She has had a nice easy time since the King George. She just did a breeze on her own with Frankie (Dettori) on her on Saturday – into a strong headwind, so they just did a nice quiet bit. She’ll pick up again in her work this week, but she is out there enjoying herself, looking well and moving nicely.
“She’s a lovely filly, obviously, and she has done extremely well this year. She really enjoys her training and her racing, which obviously makes the trainer’s job a lot easier. Everyone is interested in her when she is out on the Heath. So we are very lucky to have a filly like that in the stables.
“Obviously it comes with plenty of responsibility but all being well we’ll be there next Thursday with her. She has been to York before. The crowd were thrilled to see her last time she was there when she came after the King George.”
From a raft of other entries in the £400,000 race Gosden expects Enable to be joined in it by Lah Ti Dar with the likes of Coronet, Anapurna and Star Catcher having planned assignments elsewhere.
Lah Ti Dar is proven at York, having won at last year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in the Listed British EBF and Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes and also at Group Two level in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes in May.
Gosden confirmed: “Lah Ti Dar may well be in the Oaks as well. The owner-breeders are very keen to run her – they’ve been wanting to run her in the race all year, so I’m sure that’s where she’ll probably be going. She is training nicely.”
The following day – Friday 23 August – Stradivarius will seek to win the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup for a second successive year. If he is victorious, the brilliant five-year-old will land the £1million Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers Bonus again; after pulling off a series of big-race successes in the past two years.
So far this season Stradivarius has once more triumphed in the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup, the Gold Cup at Royal and, late last month, the Qatar Goodwood Cup.
Gosden said: “He is as cheeky as ever! He is full of himself, a very happy horse. He is training up nicely for the race. Obviously, the Goodwood Cup was not that long ago, so we come into the Lonsdale just trying to keep the freshness in him.
“He probably had tougher races coming through last year – the Gold Cup last year was a formidable race, whereas they probably didn’t go as hard this year. Therefore, for him, it didn’t drain him so much.
“We are looking forward to the race. He did struggle in it last year – no doubt about that. It’s quite a lot of races, but they are spaced well and he has already been to York once this year for the Yorkshire Cup.”
On the opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival – Wednesday 21 August – Gosden is planning to send out King Of Comedy in the £1million Juddmonte International Stakes. The Kingman colt finished a narrowly-beaten second in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out and will step up to an extended mile and a quarter for his Knavesmire appointment
Gosden said: “We feel that is his trip. Since Royal Ascot this has been the plan.”
On the same card, the Clarehaven Stables based string is set to be represented by the unbeaten Logician in the Group Three Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes. The son of Frankel is three from three to date, running away with a Newbury handicap on his last start.
Gosden said: “We are planning at this moment to run Logician in the Voltigeur. Obviously it’s a considerable move up in class, but he has been going nicely at home.”
Such high-profile runners bring about scrutiny and pressure. But Gosden has a measured viewpoint on the situation.
He said: “It’s a whole lot tougher if you don’t have horses of the quality to compete at a meeting like York. If you have something that can compete there that is, funny enough, less pressure than not finding a horse that can compete there. That’s tough to live with if you’re a trainer and I think that’s something that people forget.”
So Gosden will enjoy next week when he steps onto the Knavesmire to saddle up some of his powerful yard’s stars.
He said: “We feel York is a phenomenal racecourse and the Ebor meeting is a real stand-out in the year. And I always say the Yorkshire crowd are definitely the most knowledgeable and the most passionate of race-goers. So it’s very fulfilling if you can find horses good enough to run in these races.”
The Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from Wednesday 21 August until Saturday 24 August inclusively.