Two leading Arc contenders on view at Kempton


The road to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Group 1) takes a detour via the Kempton polytrack on Saturday, where two leading contenders for the ParisLongchamp showcase will be out to make their presence felt in the September Stakes (Group 3) over 2.400 metres. We are, of course, referring to Enable (Nathaniel), the defending champion, and Crystal Ocean (Sea the Stars).  The latter has not been seen in public since finishing second in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the British equivalent of the Arc, in late July.
Enable out to make a big splash on her return. Enable proved imperious in the 2017 edition of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2017 as a three-year-old. Owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, the filly has been plagued by minor health problems since the beginning of the year. Consequently, her entourage then decided to give her the necessary time to overcome these. Her trainer, John Gosden, has set a precedent as regards using the September Stakes as a springboard for his top horses: and the example of Jack Hobbs (Halling), who made his comeback in this race in 2015 before finishing third in the Champion Stakes (Group 1), springs to mind.
Lanfranco Dettori, the rider of Enable, said: « It’s something difficult to predict {as to how the filly will perform on her comeback}. Furthermore, we are talking about a filly who will be returning to the track after a long absence and is now a year older, having made the transition from three to four. I think that she might be a bit wound up at the start as her competitive instincts kick-in. Furthermore, she’s also a little ring-rusty. It’s her comeback race and not the examination of a lifetime. » Enable is the bookmakers’ favourite for the forthcoming Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, having variously been quoted at odds of 9/2 and 5/1.
Crystal Ocean: a potential supplementary entry. Crystal Ocean is the surprise presence in the September Stakes. The Sir Michael Stoute runner wasn’t among the original entries for the Group 3 race which technically ‘closed’ last Monday {September 3}. Consequently, the race was reopened for a further 24 hours because of the lack of runners; and, it was at this stage, namely last Tuesday, that Sir Michael Stoute decided to nominate the Sir Evelyn de Rothschild colt. Crystal Ocean isn’t currently entered in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and his performance on Saturday will be a big determining factor as to whether his connections decided to stump up the 120.000 € supplementary fee.
Crystal Ocean is reaching maturity as a four-year-old. In 2017, he was second in Doncaster St Leger (Group 1). This season, he has reeled off a hat-trick which has included the Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot.  He was beaten a neck by Poet’s Word (Poet’s Voice) in the King George. Poet’s Word is also trained by Sir Michael Stoute. He was coming off a win in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1) at Royal Ascot prior to the King George.  Crystal Ocean is the fourth choice at odds oscillating from 7-1 to 8-1 with the ‘bookies’ in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe line of betting.
The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe takes place on Sunday, October 7 at ParisLongchamp. The « Arc », as it is also known as, is the world’s greatest horserace.