Enable is no bigger than 11-8 to record an unprecedented third victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe having drawn a favourable low stall in a final field of 15 on Thursday morning, less than an hour after Aidan O’Brien announced that Love, the big-race favourite for much of the last three months, will not make the trip to Paris on Sunday.
The withdrawal of Love, the winner of the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, after persistent rain at Longchamp in recent days was hugely disappointing for O’Brien but leaves John Gosden, Enable’s trainer, with the front two in the betting after his outstanding stayer Stradivarius attracted further support. The winner of the Gold Cup at Ascot for the last three seasons was a 20-1 shot eight days ago, but is now top-priced at 13-2 despite a wide draw in stall 14.
Enable’s pitch in stall five, on the other hand, could hardly be better and she will be starting from a single-figure draw in the Arc for the fourth year running. She was drawn two (of 18) for her first win in 2017, when the race was held at Chantilly, and then six of 19 at Longchamp a year later, when Sea Of Class, from a much higher drawn, ran her to a short-nose. She was nine of 12 last year, meanwhile, when Waldgeist ran her down in the final furlong on rain-softened ground.
The memory of Enable’s blunted finishing kick on very soft ground 12 months ago may give some punters pause for thought before backing her at around 11-8 on Sunday. The fact that the recent rain has forced Love from the field removes a highly dangerous rival from the reckoning, however, while Enable, who has an official rating of 124, will also get a 3lb mares’ allowance from the higher-rated Stradivarius (125) and Persian King (125).
The third-favourite in the updated betting is Sottsass, last year’s French Derby winner and then third behind Waldgeist and Enable in the Arc. Jean-Claude Rouget’s colt is drawn alongside Enable in stall four, while the German Derby winner In Swoop, another springer in the market in recent days down to a top price of 10-1, is against the rail in stall one. O’Brien’s Mogul – who will now be the mount of Ryan Moore – is 14-1 alongside both his runaway Derby winner, Serpentine, and Rouget’s lightly-raced three-year-old filly Raabihah, and it is 16-1 bar.
Love, meanwhile, will now be re-routed to the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Keeneland in Kentucky early next month, where she could run in either the Turf or the Filly & Mare Turf, and she will also be kept in training at four.
Friday’s best bets
They are sticklers for tradition at Ascot and there are just six races on the card at the Berkshire track, which will leave many punters feeling a bit short-changed in these days of eight- and nine-race meetings.
But it is probably for the best with Champions Day just around the corner, as the going is now good-to-soft after 5mm of rain since Thursday evening and further showers – and quite possibly further going changes – are anticipated.
That does diminish confidence in Albaflora (2.30) against the odds-on Berkshire Rocco in the Listed Noel Murless Stakes as Ralph Beckett’s filly has yet to race on anything slower than good ground. She registered an excellent time when edged out by Sorrel in a handicap at Doncaster’s Leger meeting, however, an effort which gives her a genuine chance against the favourite, who had a hard race to finish second in the Leger itself last time.
Society Lion (4.50) was a close second on good-to-soft ground at Doncaster in July and ran well to finish a close third at Ascot last month. The drop back to six furlongs could see him back in the winner’s enclosure.
It is more like jumping weather in truth and Lucky Flight (3.30) should follow up his successful handicap debut over fences on the card at Hexham, while Coolanly (1.00) has an obvious chance for the in-form Fergal O’Brien at Fontwell.
Fontwell 12.30 Shinobi 1.00 Coolanly 1.35 Miss Heritage 2.10 Imperial Presence 2.45 Balko Saint 3.20 Never Learn 3.55 Volturnus 4.30 Kerb Line
Hexham 1.15 Millie Of Mayo 1.45 Fostered Phil 2.20 Grand Enterprise
2.55 Pagero 3.30 Lucky Flight 4.05 Speak Of The Devil 4.40 Orioninverness
Ascot 1.55 Piranesi 2.30 Albaflora (nap) 3.05 Tiger Crusade 3.40 Natural History 4.15 Tyson Fury 4.50 Society Lion (nb)
Newcastle 4.45 Natty Night 5.20 My Ukulele 5.50 Al Aresh 6.25 Ebnzaidoon 7.00 Iris Bud 7.30 Traveller 8.00 G For Gabrial 8.30 Buniann
At Newcastle, meanwhile, Al Aresh (5.50) could be worth a small interest at a double-figure price making his second start for David O’Meara after arriving from France. He travelled noticeably well on his British debut at Redcar last month but couldn’t get a run when required. At around 12-1, he could make the most of a 4lb drop in the weights for that run.