We knew she had speed, stamina and star quality but you can now add infinite reserves of courage as Enable landed a pulsating King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
The neck success of the John Gosden-trained mare from an equally brave rival in Crystal Ocean will live long in the memory of those that witnessed it and left her physically and emotionally drained jockey Frankie Dettori describing the tussle as ‘the hardest fought group one race I have ever ridden in’.
Gosden, winning his fourth King George, had warned that Enable’s attempt to join Dahlia and Swain as a dual King George winner was no penalty kick.
Enable rode to a stunning victory in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot
As well as Crystal Ocean, the world’s top rated horse, the Khaled Abdullah-owned 8-15 favourite faced a line-up including Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, 2017 Japan Cup winner Cheval Blanc and three-time French-trained group one race winner Waldgeist.
What we got was a contest that evoked memories of the legendary battle between Grundy and Bustino in 1975 that became known as the race of the century.
We are not quite a fifth into the 2000s but Saturday’s frenetic contest already must have a good chance of making the shortlist for 21st century’s best Flat races.
The admiring crowd cheered Enable back to the winner’s enclosure as well as giving the runner-up, two-length third Waldgeist and fourth Salouen receptions normally reserved for winners.
Dettori, 48, landing his sixth King George, said: ‘Enable showed what a will to win she has. I don’t want too many races like that because I am absolutely exhausted. In all my career it is probably the hardest fought group one I have ever had.
‘Crystal Ocean was like one of those flies that never goes away. They are two great champions. We had a titanic battle but I always had the edge.
‘Enable surprised me. She is an amazing horse in every way. I love her. She gives me emotions no horse have given to me in my life and she has shown again she is still the best.’
Frankie Dettori celebrates after completing another win in a race that will be long remembered
The victorious pair received a huge cheer from the watching crowd after winning
Gosden, who said he had given Dettori a ticking off for hitting the front too soon, added: ‘Next time we might try to hold onto our petrol a little longer but there was a lot of guts in that performance.
‘So much is about mental strength in horses and she really showed it. So did Crystal Ocean and they outclassed the whole field.
‘It was what we wanted, the most amazing race. What more could racing want. It was two great athletes, a bit like the Wimbledon final (between Djokovic and Federer) going 12-12 in the final set.’
John Gosden admitted he gave Dettori a telling-off after hitting the front too soon in the race
Enable has now won 12 of her 13 races and over £9million in prizemoney.
Dettori was presented with a tactical dilemma with Enable drawn widest of all in the 11-strong field, forcing him to race wide in the early stages.
Out in front setting a frenetic pace was the Aidan O’Brien trio of Norway, Hunting Horn and Magic Wand – just like Bustino’s pacesetters had in 1975.
With a mile to go, Enable only has had three rivals behind her.
If the O’Brien plan was to set up the race for his Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, it did not work.
His jockey Ryan Moore was riding him along five furlongs out and he eventually finished 10th with only tailed off stablemate Magic Wand two furlongs behind him.
As Dettori shadowed Crystal Ocean, the final two furlong turned into a Enable-Crystal Ocean stride-for-stride shoot-out.
Crystal Ocean (left) ended up in a straight race for first place with Dettori and Enable
For a moment just inside the final furlong it looked as if Enable may be giving way but ultimately she held on more decisively than seemed likely during those few faltering strides.
James Doyle, Crystal Ocean’s jockey, said: ‘I have never experienced coming second in a race and almost getting as loud a cheer as the winner.
‘She joined me and I felt like I headed Enable back and that we might be in business but she dug into her reserves. My fella left every inch of his heart on the track.’
An historic third Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe has been the aim all season for Enable.
Her odds for the race at Longchamp in Paris on October 6 were slightly eased, given another mouth-watering tussle with Crystal Ocean is on the cards.
Before then the plan had been to give Enable her final race in Britain at York’s Ebor meeting next month, though Gosden will want to be sure she has recovered from her King George exertions.