Surely to be recorded as one of the most memorable finishes in the history of the 1 ½-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1), the indominable 5-year-old mare Enable (GB), under jockey Frankie Dettori, out dueled Sir Evelyn de Rothschild’s Crystal Ocean (GB) in an epic stretch drive to win Saturday’s 69th edition at Ascot by a neck and earned an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California, Nov 1-2. As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Enable, who won last year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, to start in this year’s event. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Enable, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by John Gosden, won her 12th race in 13 starts, and her 11th consecutive victory, nine of those being Group 1 scores. A bay daughter of Nathaniel (IRE), who won this race in 2011, out of Concentric (GB) by Sadler’s Wells, Enable, a two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner, is now a two-time winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, having previously captured the 2017 edition. She joins Dahlia and Swain (IRE) as the only two-time winners of this race.
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“I’m exhausted emotionally, said Dettori to the Racing Post. “Wow. She’s obviously good but she’s also very brave. I’m lost for words. What a great reception she’s had. She’s brilliant. The second [Crystal Ocean] is a great horse, I knew he was the one to beat. We gave the public what they came to see, and they got a fantastic horse race.”
Off as the 8/15 favorite in an 11-horse field of star-studded Group 1 winners, Dettori kept Enable towards the rear in eighth, while the Aidan O’Brien-trained Norway (IRE) set an uncontested and solid early pace, followed by stablemates Magic Wand (IRE) and Hunting Horn (IRE) as the horses approached the top of the stretch.
Enable Wins the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
James Doyle, aboard the 7-2 Crystal Ocean, who earned a “Win and You’re In” berth into the Turf by capturing the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) last month at Royal Ascot, made the first move, passing the O’Brien runners. Dettori followed Crystal Ocean on the outside and gained a slight advantage and the two runners battled furiously to the wire in the final two furlongs, with Enable just prevailing at the line.
Three-time Group 1 winner Waldgeist (IRE) finished third, followed by 80-1 Salouen (IRE) in fourth, with Hunting Horn in fifth. The 2017 Japan Cup (G1) winner, Cheval Grand (JPN), was sixth. O’Brien’s fourth runner, Investec Derby (G1) winner Anthony Van Dyck (IRE), finished 10th.
Enable came into today’s race having won the 1 ¼-mile Coral-Eclipse (G1) at Sandown, on July 6, which was her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf last November.
Enable, becomes the fifth horse to earn and automatic berth in the 1 ½-mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf this year, joining Il Mercato (ARG), winner of the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini (G1) at San Isidro in Argentina; George Washington (BRZ) winner of the Grande Premio Brasil (G1) at Gavea in Brazil; Lys Gracieux (JPN), who won the Takarazukah Kinen (G1) at Hanshin in Japan, and Crystal Ocean.