Dettori already has his Ascot statue, surely Enable now needs hers

Frankie Dettori jumps from Enable after winning The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes during QIPCO King George Day at Ascot Racecourse.
Frankie Dettori jumps from Enable after winning The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes during QIPCO King George Day at Ascot Racecourse.

Sometimes it’s just hard to find the words to describe what you’ve witnessed - which in this job is never ideal, writes James Toney.

What do you do when no adjective will do it justice, when even the most lofty of superlatives just seems a little trite?

Well, here goes anyway.

Enable’s place in a crowded pantheon of equine greats was secure before this race, while her jockey Frankie Dettori has long been immortalised in bronze at Ascot too.

But together they combined again for the most glorious of victories in the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, racing’s big-money midsummer showpiece and part of the Qipco British Champion Series.

This was sporting perfection, like a crisp cover drive at Lord’s, a last-ditch free-kick into the top corner at Wembley, a well-struck four iron to inches on St Andrews 18th.

It was a race for the ages - an instant classic - as Dettori and Enable battled down the straight with James Doyle and Crystal Ocean, their eventual winning margin the shortest of necks.

The big race has long been Dettori’s favourite stage and few others know how to deliver when the spotlight is on full glare and pressure gauge is quivering on max.

There is no secret so close as that between a rider and their horse and there are few sporting double acts as symbiotic as Dettori and Enable.

This was their 11th consecutive victory, an unbeaten run lasting 808 days and including two Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe wins, a Breeders’ Cup triumph and a classic success at the Oaks.

Their tally includes nine group ones and counting but this, this was the best yet, even beating last year’s dramatic victory at Longchamp.

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Enable was last to arrive in the parade ring, last to saddle up, last to the post and last in the stalls.

Drawn widest of all, for a while she seemed to idle in near last too, but this was the most patient, perfect ride from Dettori, a textbook example for those young bucks he is still showing a clean pair of boots.

He trusted the horse beneath him, didn’t panic when out of position and hit the front with two furlongs remaining, tussling with Doyle and Crystal Ocean in a duel that saw an entire crowd draw a collective breath and hold it until they flashed past the post - which then triggered a guttural roar of relief.

It’s 44 years and one day since Grundy brilliantly beat Bustino to win this race - the ‘race of the century’ they called it.

Time to give those history books a hasty revision.

“She’s special, she gives me emotion that no other horse has given me in my life and she’s only with me for another three months, so I’m trying to capture and enjoy every moment,” said Dettori, who despite the frantic finish used his whip just once.

“She’s an amazing horse in every way, ability, courageous and uncomplicated. She is extraordinary and she really surprised me.

“When I ride her I carry the pressure of the nation, she hasn’t lost for two years and we’re back on the road to Longchamp now.

“We had a right titanic battle with Crystal Ocean. I always believed we had the edge but it was one of those flies that wasn’t going away. He was there and annoying me to the line, the gloves were off.

“I don’t want too many races like that because I’m absolutely exhausted. In all my career that is the hardest fought big race that I’ve ever had.”

Is there another sportsman who would leave such as void in their sport when they retire as Dettori, just furlongs from his 50th birthday in 2020.

Seven years ago his career seemed to be stalling, his long association with Godolphin had ended and the big race wins had dried up. He served a six-month doping suspension and was exiled to reality television, finishing well outside the places in Celebrity Big Brother.

But just as Frankel, who raced in the same green and pink colours of Prince Khalid Abdulla, gave trainer Sir Henry Cecil his greatest moments in the autumn of his career, Enable has provided the seemingly evergreen Dettori with his finest days.

And that’s some competition in a storied career, with the in-form jockey winning nine group one races in the last nine weeks alone, more than some of his weighing room colleagues ever get close to.

This story’s final chapter is also yet unpenned, with trainer John Gosden now having to plot and plan while the crowd chants ‘more, more, more’.

Does he aim her straight at an unprecedented third Arc or fit in another run next month, perhaps the Juddmonte Stakes, a race sponsored by her owner’s breeding operation, or the Yorkshire Oaks?

Whatever happens let’s enjoy it while we can, because Enable and Dettori are as good as it gets and we may not see their like again.

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