Dettori's 'favourite girl' chases historic third win in Paris

London (AFP) –


Frankie Dettori's "favourite girl" Enable has her final tilt at making racing history on Sunday as she strives to become the first horse to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe three times.

At six years old, trainer John Gosden's "battle-hardened" mare has kept racing fans' hearts beating in the strangest of seasons, interrupted by the coronavirus.

Enable has endeared herself to racegoers through her exploits on the track and also her longevity -- at her age most top-class horses have retired to produce blue-blooded progeny.

At 49, Italian jockey Dettori could easily have opted for a comfortable retirement.

However, as he told AFP earlier this year, Enable has "taken him to places emotionally he has never been before".

This bond was strengthened when Dettori and Enable romped to a historic third victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.

"What a horse, what can you say? It's no burden to say I love her so much. My favourite girl," Dettori purred.

"People get attached to her, no more than me and Imran (the groom), who looks after her.

"She has got this amazing presence and these massive, big ears.

"She walks with her chest sticking out and you can see it -– she gives those vibes to everyone and people are attached to her for that reason.

"I get the privilege to ride her and the public are actually riding with me. We really need to cherish these special horses."

- 'Spoil her with Polos' -

Gosden, 69, describes the horse as a "phenomenal athlete" with great mental strength.

"She is in the zone when racing," he told AFP. "She is like all great athletes. What separates them from the ordinary ones is being strong-minded."

This competitive streak extends even to when she is out of the limelight and doing an ordinary training gallops.

"If she doesn't go out first lot (on the gallops), she gets annoyed that she has to wait," said Gosden. "She loves going out there and carries herself magnificently -– she is a very proud person."

Gosden says great horses such as Enable, who has won more than £10 million ($13 million) in prize money with 11 of her 15 wins coming in Group One races, gives racing a rare chance to extend its appeal outside the sport.

"Horses like her are incredibly important to our game," he said.

Enable is so important she is the only horse in Gosden's yard that Dettori rides out on the gallops and who gets a special treat when he pops in to say hello.

"I love her so much," said Dettori. "I spoil her with Polos (mint sweets).

"I don't know whether she really recognises me or not, but she eats them no matter what. I've become friends with her."

Enable may be in the zone but she knows when to relax during a contest -- something her trainer wishes he could do when she is racing.

"I find the responsibility quite enormous and it weighs heavy, but what a pleasure to be around a race mare like that," he said.