Only the best are awarded a hero’s reception in moments of defeat and the faithful in Paris did not disappoint, giving Enable a rapturous welcome after she fell just short of a record third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe success.
The thousands that made the journey from Britain to see Frankie Dettori and the undisputed star of Flat racing attempt to claim a place in the history books may have been left deflated as Waldgeist swooped to glory, but rarely will a loss have been greeted like a victory.
Finding a spot to greet the John Gosden-trained mare after she had to settle for second best in a race she has made her own in the past two years was a difficult task, and those that did manage to take up a position outside the winner’s enclosure made their feelings known.
“It was lovely (the reception) she got, and she got shouted out going out, too,” Gosden said.
“It’s great for racing and I’m sorry we couldn’t quite pull it off, but when I walked the track with Frankie and the stick was going in that far (around a foot) I thought, ‘Houston, we have got a problem here’.
“I deal with it as she is fine after the race and looks great. The winning horse I have a lot of respect for and the owner-breeder and to (trainer) Andre (Fabre). We were beaten by a better horse on the day in the conditions and it didn’t come as a surprise to me.”
For a fleeting moment down the home straight it looked as though Enable would do it, as she swiftly put daylight between herself and the field but Gosden was always concerned the ground may have the impact it ultimately did.
“If the ground had been like last year, good to soft, I would have been very disappointed to finish second, but I could see this sucker punch coming and I take nothing away from the winner who is an absolutely brilliant horse,” he said.
Enable’s jockey Frankie Dettori also also pointed to the ground as the main reason behind Enable’s defeat.
“The first bit of the race I let her find her feet and she came good to me in the false straight. I waited until the 300 and I didn’t find as much as I thought I had left and I just folded a bit and the winner was just too good for me today.
“My filly was really tired, to be honest with you. Passing the 200 I was a spent force then. I think the ground has got a lot to do with it.
Enable’s defeat was just her second and Gosden maintained his pride in the mare.
“I’m thrilled with her performance and I knew when the extra rain came, and I did say to people before the race, we just lost our most potent weapon,” he said
Gosden said he expected it would be a week before Enable’s owner Prince Khalid Abdulla made any decision on whether she would race again or be retired.