Frankie Dettori celebrates with a trophy after winning the St James's Palace Stakes as Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, look on. Picture: REUTERS
Frankie Dettori celebrates with a trophy after winning the St James's Palace Stakes as Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, look on. Picture: REUTERS

In the year of his 50th birthday, renowned jockey Frankie Dettori wants only one present, a trip to Paris on the first Sunday of October, not for a visit to Folies Bergère but to try making racing history on superstar mare Enable.

Dettori turns 50 in December but he remains as competitive as before and was in the saddle in 2019 when Enable, winner of 10 grade ones, won the Eclipse Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

However, the one race he wanted to win, a record third success in the Arc De Triomphe, eluded him and trainer John Gosden with victory going to the French runner Waldgeist.

There was speculation that Enable might be retired after that defeat, but to the delight of racing fans she remains in training with the Arc once again her principal goal.

Interviewed on Racing TV, Dettori said: “The main aim is to get her to the first Sunday in October in the best shape we can, to get her to do something that no horse has done in Arc history.

“The obvious races are Royal Ascot or the Eclipse, those kind of races.

“She looks magnificent. Sometimes you are afraid when a horse is getting older [Enable is six] that they might lose the racing brain, but she seems very alert. She struts around the place like she owns it — she’s very fresh and alert and that’s a good sign.”

But how fit is Dettori for the campaign ahead when British racing gets the green light from the government?

Low-key introduction

“I’m very close to my top fitness. After a few days and a few rides under my belt it will be business as usual,” said Dettori.

Enable, winner of 13 of her 15 races, had a low-key introduction to racing, winning by nearly four lengths on the all-weather track at Newcastle in November 2016.

In April 2017, she reappeared at Newbury where she finished third behind stablemate Shutter Speed. It was her next two wins — in the Cheshire Oaks and Investec Oaks, the latter run in a thunderstorm — that suggested she might be extraordinary.

Much play has been made about who would come out on top in a race between Enable and Australian champion Winx. There was speculation they might clash in Singapore, but it was never a reality as Winx was born in 2011, three years before Enable.

In 2018 Winx won the Secretariat Vox Populi award as the top choice of racing fans as the world’s best thoroughbred. To say this resulted in heated debate is an understatement.

Yes, Winx, who retired in April 2019, enjoyed a remarkable career winning 36 of her 42 races. She won 33 races running and 25 grade ones.

However, the case put forward by Enable’s supporters is a strong one. While Winx never ventured out of her home country, Enable has raced in England, France and the US.

When Enable won the Breeders Cup at Churchill Downs in Kentucky she became the first horse to complete the Arc De Triomphe-Breeders Cup double in the same season.

Whether Dettori’s birthday wish is granted remains to be seen, but Enable and Winx are certainly two mares who have captured the hearts of countless racing fans in the past few years.