Timeform preview Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, in which Enable will bid to create racing history...
"...a repeat of her best form this season is likely to be good enough..."
Timeform on Enable
When Treve attempted to become the first three-time winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe she faced a formidable opponent in Golden Horn - a Derby, Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes winner who had established himself as the dominant performer of a strong classic crop. However, no such star will stand in the way of Enable at Longchamp on Sunday when she bids to complete her historic hat-trick under Frankie Dettori, who already has an Arc record beyond compare.
Enable has not been beaten since April 2017. Since then she has clocked up 12 wins and has made consistency at the highest level her hallmark. When you factor in her season being expertly centred around the Arc, there is good reason to expect she will once again deliver a performance which sets a standard too high for her rivals to match.
Enable tops Timeform's weight-adjusted Arc ratings, despite the fact she is rated 5 lb below her peak, which was achieved in the 2017 Arc when she comfortably won by two and a half lengths to put the seal on a sensational classic campaign comprising five Group 1 successes.
However, injury last year restricted her campaign to just three starts, which offers some mitigation, and her most recent success in the Yorkshire Oaks, where she readily beat old adversary Magical by two and a quarter lengths, hinted that she was working back towards her absolute best - a scary prospect for her rivals considering even a repeat of her best form this season is likely to be good enough.
Magical, who reopposes on Sunday, has since backed up the form by winning the Irish Champion Stakes and it is very difficult to find a chink in the armour of Enable.
Enable has captured the imagination of the public in a way few horses in recent times have managed. However, there is arguably no better rider to handle the pressure than Dettori, who has won the Arc on six occasions and has undergone an incredible renaissance in recent seasons. In 2013, Dettori had just one Group 1 winner from only 14 rides at the highest level, the lack of opportunities highlighting how his star had waned, but this season he has won 16 Group 1s from 38 rides at a strike-rate of 42%. The strike-rate when only considering rides for Enable's trainer John Gosden this season improves to a staggering 57% (13 from 23).
Two of Dettori's Arc wins (Sakhee in 2001 and Marienbard in 2002) were achieved in the silks of Godolphin, and the powerful operation - which has also undergone a resurgence in recent years - are responsible for a fascinating contender in Ghaiyyath, who features prominently on ratings and could be even higher were a literal interpretation taken of his 14-length rout in Germany last month.
The Grosser Preis Von Baden - Germany's most important race - was turned into a procession by Ghaiyyath, whose winning margin is one of the widest recorded in Group 1 company. The lofty level he reached was not a complete surprise as he had previously shown notable promise, most conspicuously in the Prix d'Harcourt on his reappearance at Longchamp in June. However, he failed to back up that performance when a beaten odds-on favourite in the Prix Ganay and, while he undoubtedly has the talent to make an impression, he will find it tougher to dominate better calibre opponents.
A greater threat to Enable could come from the steadily progressive Japan, who produced his best effort yet to beat Crystal Ocean - who had previously pushed Enable close in an epic King George - in the Juddmonte International at York last time.
Beating a horse so tough and consistent as Crystal Ocean confirmed that Japan was the best middle-distance three-year-old around and there can be no doubting his heart or tenacity after coming out on top of such a pulsating finish, while it's difficult to escape the feeling that his improvement came in spite of the drop in trip to an extended 1m2f.
Japan rates as the pick of O'Brien's team. However, he will need to improve again to challenge an on-song Enable. Similar sentiments apply to leading French challenger Sottsass, who arguably enhanced his reputation despite facing a relatively simple task in the Prix Niel. The French Derby winner was expected to book his Arc ticket with the minimum of fuss in a trial which had been a fantastic stepping stone - seven Arc winners between 1996 and 2006 had run in the contest - but has fallen out of fashion in recent years. However, he was hemmed in on the rail and needed to produce a striking turn of foot to prevail.
He remains capable of better, while his potent turn of foot and proven Group 1 form at around 1m2f will prove a considerable asset if the emphasis is placed on speed.
The Prix Foy has a poor record when it comes to producing Arc winners - Sagace in 1984 was the last to do the double - but this year's winner Waldgeist holds solid claims. He was beaten less than two lengths by Enable in the King George in July, a performance which showed he is better than ever at the age of five, and a comfortable victory in the Foy should act as a perfect prep. He is likely to come up slightly short, as he did last year when fourth, but ought to give a good account.
The Japanese have famously failed to win the Arc - a race craved above all others by many of the nation's trainers - but have gone agonisingly close in the past, most notably with El Condor Pasa, who was overhauled by Montjeu in 1999, and Orfevre, who somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in 2012.
This year’s Japanese challenge, which comes from Blast Onepiece, Fierement and Kiseki, is strong numerically but perhaps lacks the quality of previous raiding parties. Blast OnePiece, who is a strong stayer but managed to win the Group 2 Sapporo Kinen over 1m2f last time, is perhaps the pick of the team but it would be a surprise were he to beat Enable, whose season has revolved around this one race, arrives on the back of a solid success and boasts the strongest form.