The mount of Frankie Dettori was the hot favorite to accomplish the unprecedented feat in Europe’s richest race, and with the line in sight it looked as if the roaring crowd would get its fairytale ending in Paris.
But jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot and outsider Waldgeist — beaten three times by Enable in the past — stormed from fourth and flashed past the green and pink silks of Dettori and Enable on the line.
Gasps and groans from the packed Longchamp grandstand told the story as the Andre-Fabre-trained Waldgeist, fourth last year, dashed Enable’s bid for immortality in racing circles.
Only eight horses have won dual Arcs, and previously only one of those had even attempted the three-peat — Treve was defeated by Dettori on Golden Horn in 2015.
Enable, who has won more than $12 million in her glittering career, clinched her first Arc at Chantilly in 2017 — Longchamp was being redeveloped — and then triumphed again last year to cement her status as one of the sport’s greats.
Her trainer John Gosden, based in Newmarket, England, told CNN’s Winning Post before the race that it was “a big ask” to pull off the feat, and there was a suggestion the heavy rain overnight in Paris may have affected the five-year-old in the haul for the line.
“The ground had a lot to do with it,” a clearly devastated Dettori told a scrum of reporters after dismounting Enable in the parade wing.
Bred by Saudi prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms bloodstock operation, Enable has also won the Epsom Oaks, the Irish Oaks, two runnings of the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in Kentucky
Coming into the Arc she was unbeaten in her previous 12 races — all under Dettori — and is widely expected to be retired with a record of 13 wins from 15 races.
“We don’t love her any less,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, who will make the final decision on Enable’s future.
Waldgeist, who has won a number of big races in France including this year’s Prix Ganay, is co-owned by German Dietrich von Boetticher.
“We didn’t expect any horses to beat Enable, she’s so superior but all you can do is try,” he told a news conference at Longchamp.
“But Andre believed so we believed.”
it was an eighth Arc title for veteran French trainer Fabre, 73, and a first for the 26-year-old Boudot.
The Arc is Europe’s richest horse race with a purse of about $5.5 million and a first prize of $3.1 million, but its history and status as a test of speed and stamina for the best middle-distance horses over three years of age makes it an icon of the sport.