Enable’s bid for history and a third victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has been thwarted by Waldgeist who gave French trainer Andre Fabre a record eighth success.
Having stretched her Group One tally to 10 with victories in the Coral-Eclipse, the King George and the Yorkshire Oaks this season, all eyes were on the John Gosden-trained star mare as she aimed to become the first three-time winner of Europe’s premier middle-distance event.
Frankie Dettori had to niggle the 4-6 favourite along during the early stages, but she was back on the bridle at the top of the home straight and looked well positioned to race into the record books.
Once asked to quicken, Enable pulled and the packed grandstands in Paris roared in expectation.
Her stride began to shorten in the final furlong (200m) on the testing ground and she was unable to resist the fast-finishing 16-1 shot Waldgeist who won by 1-3/4 lengths under Pierre-Charles Boudot.
“I always hope for the very best when I run my horses in the Arc, which of course is a very special race for me,” Fabre said.
“With Waldgeist, he carried my highest expectation.
“I knew the ground would be very testing, but I look back to his days as a two-year-old, when he won in the heavy, and that made me more confident that he would finish his race off well.
“I don’t know whether he will run again this year and I will talk to the owner about that.
“I’m very proud that Waldgeist managed to beat such a fantastic mare, it’s well deserved in some ways. What can I say? I’m delighted.”
Boudot admitted to being “on cloud nine”.
“He proved he can handle any ground today,” he said.
“He came into his own when I let him down in the final straight and I was on cloud nine going past the winning post. I can’t describe the feeling.”
Both Gosden and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Enable’s owner Khalid Abdullah, declined to confirm the mare’s anticipated immediate retirement.
“We’ve always said Prince Khalid will make the decisions,” Grimthorpe said.
“Prince Khalid will want to reflect on all the various possibilities, give it some good thought – and hopefully we’ll come up with a good answer.
“How can we complain? She’s been the most fantastic filly. Prince Khalid has just enjoyed every moment of her. It was not what we all wanted obviously but in the end we have to accept these things in racing.
“We don’t love her any less.”
Dettori felt the ground had taken its toll on Enable in the closing stages.
“The ground was very sticky and I struggled in the first bit of the race,” he said.
“I let her find her feet and she came good to me in the false straight. I waited for the 300 metres (marker), but didn’t find as much as I thought.
“She just folded a bit and the winner was too good for me today, but my filly was already tired. I passed the 200 (metre pole) and I was a spent force then.
“I think ground had a lot to do with it.”
As with Enable, connections of Waldgeist will take their time in considering the next move.
“Winning the Arc is something you always want to achieve and try to do,” part-owner Dietrich Von Boetticher said.
“In truth, I didn’t think there was a horse in the world that could beat Enable. We felt all we could do was to try and Andre was positive.”