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Wednesday 10 October 2018

Enable joins the greats

ENABLE joined the greats of horseracing when winning the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe for the 2nd time on Sunday, but it was a close run thing.  As the 3yo filly See Of Class bore down in the final furlong, reducing the deficit with every stride, the “slow-motion” replay that focused on the leading pair close to the finish showed ENABLE blink just before they crossed the line – it was that close -  or was it?
Last Wednesday, I went through the runners for the race and, in my opinion based on known form and my own personal ratings, there did not seem to be much chance of any other horse in the race winning other than ENABLE, such was her superiority. There was so much between her and the others, which looked (on the whole) a poor opposition based on usual "Arc" fields, that I thought Cloth Of Stars (who chased home Enable last year) had a good chance of filling the same spot again - and on Wednesday the odds about Cloth Of Stars were 50/1.
There were a couple of elements which were not in Enable's favour, for instance (given the time between her previous 2 runs of 11 months) she could have “bounced” and the final result suggests that she did indeed run a long way below her 2017 winning performance. Also, the ground look particularly stamina sapping despite being described as officially “good”. Jockeys and trainers described the ground as good-to-soft, soft, and “loose-on-top”. Certainly, despite being in a clear lead entering the final furlong, ENABLE appeared to only just hold on to that lead as her energy slipped away.
However, in ENABLE’s favour was her undoubted brilliance, based on her winning 2017 performance. 

My personal ratings of the last 10 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe winners.
Year & winner                            RPR Rating                 My rating
2018 Enable                                        122                              112
2017 Enable                                        129                              127
2016 Found                                         124                              120
2015 Golden Horn                              127                              130
2014 Treve                                          126                              131
2013 Treve                                          131                              132
2012 Solemnia                                    124                              120
2011 Danedream                                128                              129
2010 Workforce                                  130                              127
2009 Sea The Stars                            132                              130     

Sea The Stars is the Racing Post’s (RPR) highest rated recent winner of the race on 132, whereas my rating of that race awarded Sea The Stars only 130 (which puts his winning performance behind both winning efforts of Treve in 2013 & 14, and on a par with Golden Horn in 2015).  The reason for my 130 rating is that I rate the performance, not the “race”, and nor do I make an allowance for potential.

I reckon the RPR awarded to Sea The Stars added a bit extra for "potential"; whereas I rate the performance 130, but Sea The Stars could potentially be 5lb or over 7lb better than that - but we will never know.  Treve, who won the race in 2013 with a superlative performance by 5-lengths and from a poor draw of 15 of the 17 runners, did not really look capable of posting a better performance than that, and never did even when winning for a 2nd time in 2014. 
My rating of Sea The Stars was based on the ability of consistent yardstick Youmzain in 2nd as that horse was also 2nd the previous year to Zarkava.  However, why I believe that Sea The Stars to be the best recent winner the manner of his win – he barely seem to be stretched, and watching the race again reminds me of the win of Sea Bird in 1965 – and suggests that he could have easily added 4 or 5 lengths to the margin of victory had he been asked for more effort.
Much has been made of the performance of the 2nd placed SEA OF CLASS as she was dropped-out to the rear of the field (as that seemed the best tactic from a draw of 15 of the 19 runners).  Personally, as I wrote on the Wednesday before the race, I did not think that the filly was on such a serious upward curve as portrayed by the Racing Post Ratings.  Certainly, she is superior to her 3yo rivals having won the Irish Oaks in a canter, but (in my opinion) she has not found further improvement since then, hence my remark that she needed to find another 10lb to trouble Enable.

So how did Sea Of Class get so close? My opinion, which I voiced on the Wednesday before the race, was that the field was substandard. I had Capri running to the same rating as he did in 2017 when 17th of 18 and over 12-lengths behind Enable. I had the 4yo Salouen, who hasn't won a race since his 2yo season (and has been beaten in 12 races as a 3yo & 4yo) yet is very consistent at around the 110 level as running to that rating - 110.  

If connections of ENABLE want to return for another go in 2019, they have nothing to fear from the current crop of 3yo's, and it all depends on whether there is something in the current 2yo crop that can take the race - it will have to be a superlative Derby winner..

1 comment:

  1. Something bloody good will have to come along to stop her winning next year too like you say.