Gosden expects fairplay in Enable's bid for history


London (AFP)

Trainer John Gosden expects a fair contest when his superstar Enable confronts three rivals from the powerful Aidan O'Brien stable as she bids to win a historic third King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori hope victory in the King George will be franked by another historic achievement later in the year -- the first horse to win European racing's most prestigious prize, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for a third time.

O'Brien came under fire for the tactics adopted in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

His three runners all raced at the front, blocking their rivals and forcing them to go wide which made them cover more ground.

Although the Gosden-trained Palace Pier won the prize, the O'Brien tactics left a sour taste in the mouth of many observers.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani -- whose family business Qatar Investment and Project Development Holding Company (QIPCO) sponsor many of the top races in England -- took to Twitter saying it was "such a shame" to see the race "run like that".

Gosden, though, told AFP on Friday he did not expect a repeat of the controversial tactics.

"That was ugly," he said. "It was very ugly for both racing fans and those who tuned in to see what racing was like as a spectacle."

Gosden's faith that Enable can make history -- following a satisfactory second on her return this season in the Eclipse Stakes earlier this month -- is based round the jockeys riding O'Brien's trio.

"William Buick (who rode last year's Irish Derby winner Sovereign), Oisin Murphy (the 2019 Epsom Derby winner on Anthony van Dyck) and Ryan Moore have ridden for me a lot," said the 69-year-old Englishman.

"I don't see them spreading out across the track in front, like the trio did in the St James's, and blocking Enable.

"They are sportsmen."

- 'The tougher the questions' -

Gosden says Enable is in good form heading into a race she won in 2017 and last year after a titanic duel with Crystal Ocean.

"She has come on well from her Eclipse run which I had always said was a prep race for this," said Gosden.

"She was only favourite then because of her reputation and Frankie (Dettori) was on board."

Gosden -- whose other long-serving stable star Stradivarius will bid for a record fourth Goodwood Cup next Tuesday -- says victory would be sweet.

"If it happens it will be great," he said.

"She did not run in the King George as a four-year-old because she was recuperating from surgery.

"This is huge test for her but she is blessed with great determination, is tough and talented.

"However she is six now and the older you get the tougher the questions are to answer."

All being well Enable will then take in a race at the York Festival in August -- either the International Stakes or the Yorkshire Oaks, which she won last year -- before the tilt at the Arc in October.

"We have something to prove in the Arc this time as we got the tactics wrong last year," he said.

Enable had a third win snatched from her in the final yards by Waldgeist.

"We went with the pace up front which was way too fast for the testing ground and we ended up walking the last furlong. There was nothing left in the tank."