Talking Horses: bookmakers accused of offering 'unrealistic' odds on Enable

Chris Cook
Photograph: Julian Herbert/PA

John Gosden has said that Enable faces “a tall order” in trying to win Saturday’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, despite being a hot favourite in the betting. The trainer accused bookmakers of trying to protect themselves by offering unrealistically short odds about his mare, who is unbeaten since April 2017.

Related: Andrea Atzeni hoping to lower Enable’s colours in King George

“I see the betting industry has put her at a price that they don’t want anyone to be backing her,” Gosden said of Enable, a 4-6 shot for Saturday. He thinks that this is partly a consequence of her jockey, Frankie Dettori, winning four races on a single day at Royal Ascot last month, when bookmakers lost heavily to punters backing his mounts in accumulators. It could have been still more expensive for bookies, had Dettori won the Britannia on Turgenev, as briefly seemed likely.

“I was told that if Frankie hadn’t got carried away down at the two and a half furlong marker in the Britannia that day, we could have had a couple of institutions with rather a large hole under the waterline,” Gosden added. “So I’m sure that pricing her where she is, is not realistic to her chances. But it is realistic for them trying to protect themselves, I suppose. I see here more as an even-money shot, with the quality of that field.”

Enable won the King George two years ago but Gosden explained why she faces a stiffer task this time. “She won it as a three-year-old filly, getting the weight from the others, just as Taghrooda won it as a three-year-old filly. It’s a little different when you’re older and suddenly you’ve got a Derby winner coming at you and he’s getting the weight from you. And you have a wonderful old horse, Crystal Ocean, who ran a blinder in it last year and won the Prince of Wales well. So this is no penalty kick, absolutely not.”

But he added that everything had gone smoothly for Enable in the three weeks since she made an impressive comeback success in the Eclipse. And he is pleased by Dettori’s continued excellent form.

“I suppose, like Lewis Hamilton, you get in the zone and you get your confidence, you’re not frightened of anything. It doesn’t mean that there’s not a banana skin around every corner. But having said that, he is riding well.”

Referring to Dettori’s front-running tactics that sealed victory in Saturday’s Irish Oaks on Star Catcher, Gosden said: “He was concerned that they might go forward and then pull the pace up. We discussed it before and I said, ‘You know, with me, you’ve got a blank canvas, you paint the painting any way you want.’ And he went out there and thought, no, I’m not happy with what’s happening here, I’m going to set my own fractions.”

Reflecting on a productive year so far, Gosden spoke of his pleasure at sending out “six individual Group One winners for six different owner-breeders”. He now has an exceptionally strong hand for major races to come.

Too Darn Hot will tackle the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood next week, with his trainer hoping to avoid a wide draw. Stradivarius will also be there, trying to win a third consecutive Goodwood Cup, while Mehdaayih goes for the Nassau.

Anapurna is heading for next month’s Yorkshire Oaks, where she could be joined by Coronet and/or Lah Ti Dar. That race remains a possibility for Enable, though she has an alternative in the Juddmonte International.

2.00 Arriba De Toda 2.30 Northern Hope 3.00 Spirit Of Lund 3.30 Tom 
Tulliver 4.00 Classic Pursuit 4.30 Iolani 5.00 Your Pal Tal (nb) 
2.15 Prissy Missy 2.45 X Force 3.15 Wild Edric 3.45 Deleyll 4.15 Engrossed 4.45 Stormbomber 5.15 Genuine Approval 
5.20 Farol 5.50 Hector Loza 6.20 Alkaraama (nap) 6.50 Lawmaking 7.20 Lady Lawyer 7.50 Maximum Effect 8.20 Characteristic 8.50 Threshodofadream 
5.40 Streets Of Milan 6.10 Le Musee 6.40 Red Inca 7.10 Skeaping 7.40 Carrie Des Champs 8.10 Red Royalist 8.40 Theatre Act 

King Of Comedy, runner-up at Royal Ascot, will go to France for the Jacques le Marois, with the Irish Champion and the Champion Stakes as longer-term targets. Star Catcher, the Irish Oaks winner, also has a French target in the Prix Vermeille.

It was reported later on Monday that Sea Of Class had died, having failed to recover from a bout of colic and consequent surgery in recent weeks. William Haggas’s chestnut filly won the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks last year and was widely seen as unlucky when narrowly beaten by Enable in the Arc.