Enable continued her singular Classic role this year when becoming the 14th filly to complete the Epsom-Curragh double in Saturday evening’s Darley Irish Oaks.
The 2-5 favourite cruised to a five and a half length victory over the Aidan O'Brien-trained Rain Goddess and provided Frankie Dettori with a perfect comeback after the shoulder injury he sustained last month.
The Italian only returned to action on Thursday and admitted: “I’ve probably come back a week too quick but the carrot dangling in front of me was too big and I had to come back. And my shoulder wasn’t under too much strain in the last 100 yards.”
There was nothing wrong with Dettori’s famous ‘flying dismount’ afterwards as he celebrated a fourth Irish Oaks victory with a filly who has been the only one to prevent an Aidan O’Brien clean-sweep of the Classics in Britain and Ireland in 2017.
Enable had five lengths in hand of Rhododendron at Epsom and extended the margin at the Curragh over Rain Goddess with Eziyra in third.
In the process she binned fears that ground quick enough for Caspian Prince to record a blistering time of 57.15 in the preceding five-furlong Sapphire Stakes might prove her undoing.
Instead Dettori parked her behind the pace-setting Bengala until the field hit the straight and then went for home on the John Gosden-trained star.
“She travels very good and has probably improved since Epsom. When I gave her a backhander she flew!” exclaimed the legendary jockey.
He was hardly exaggerating and in a year when the surprise 40-1 Epsom Derby winner Wings Of Eagles has already been retired – and Capri won a tight Irish Derby finish – there will be a school of thought to suggest it is Enable who is 2017’s outstanding three-year-old middle distance talent.
Gosden won the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Taghrooda and didn’t rule out Enable taking on both males and older horses in the Ascot highlight in two weeks’ time.
One condition could be that a cut back leg doesn’t become an issue but Gosden is clearly impressed with his second Irish Oaks winner, and the first to complete the Epsom-Curragh double since Snow Fairy in 2010.
“She has probably come on since Epsom. She has great tactical speed and a great temperament,” he said. “The King George is an option. So is the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. There are plenty options. But as always the horse will tell us.”
Quizzed about Enable’s standing in comparison to her male contemporaries, the Englishman joked: “Maybe we should have run in the Irish Derby and found out!”
Gosden has been the only Classic rival to O’Brien’s Ballydoyle team this year but had to settle for second in the Irish Derby with Cracksman. The trainer indicated the colt will start next in York’s Great Voltiguer next month and that Cracksman could then be left off until 2018 when he “could be a stunning four-year-old”.
Inevitably, though, Dettori was the centre of most attention as he secured a 20th Group One success in Ireland.
“I’ve had a bad spell but I’m back and it’s nice to have my first winner back in a classic,” he said. “Luckily where I broke it [shoulder] it was in a place where it was going to heal very quickly. If I was going to have an operation I would have been out for the season.”
Rain Goddess ran an honourable second in the Oaks but it was a frustrating Group One day for the O’Brien team who earlier had seen the Caravaggio bubble get comprehensively pricked in Newmarket’s July Cup.
The colt proclaimed by Aidan O'Brien as the fastest he's trained failed to even make the frame behind Godolphin's 9-2 winner, Harry Angel.
The previously unbeaten 10-11 favourite could finish only fourth as the rival he beat in Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup dominated the finish. The 2016 winner Limato was runner-up with the 28-1 outsider Brando third.
O’Brien pointed to a slow start by Caravaggio and said “Ryan [Moore] said he was a little bit slow out of the gates and that probably left him a bit on the back foot. I’m not making any excuses.”
For a Group One sprint, however, the early pace didn’t appear notably frantic and Harry Angel was in the perfect position on the front end of it. He comprehensively reversed Ascot form with the favourite.
“I came back last time saying I should have won and it was in the bottom of my heart that he’d show them the way it was,” said Harry Angel’s jockey Adam Kirby.
“The race couldn’t have gone any better. He was strong but I got him half where I wanted him and then he quickened and showed how good he is. I can’t express how good he is. I’m really excited,” he added.
Earlier on the Newmarket card, Ballydoyle's Gustav Klimt overcame serious interference to land the Group Two Superlative Stakes and earn promotion to the top of the betting for next year's 2,000 Guineas and Derby.
Moore saw a gap close in front of him outside the two furlong pole and had to snatch up the Galileo colt before switching to the far rail.
Despite that Gustav Klimt quickened up impressively and the 5-6 favourite was a head in front of Nebo at the line.
“He’s a very good horse,” Moore said. “The gap was there and just when we went to go in there we sort of rolled and he was pinched out of it. He ran really green because he’d never been in tight. But it was a very good performance to get back up from there.”
Later, at the Curragh O'Brien's Actress was cut to as low as 16-1 for next year's 1,000 Guineas after beating the colts in the Group Three Anglesey Stakes.
With Moore on duty at Newmarket, Séamus Heffernan did the steering on the 7-1 winner who beat Theobald with the odds-on favourite Brother Bear back in third.
“I rode her last week over five and thought they didn’t go quick enough for me as I thought she was an out and out sprinter,” Heffernan said.
“I didn’t think she’d see out the trip as well today but if they have a bit of pace and want to go forward it’s better to leave them at it,” he added.
Another Ballydoyle juvenile, The Pentagon, earned 33-1 Guineas quotes after pulverising his maiden opposition to the tune of eight and a half lengths under Ana O'Brien.
The winner was well backed down to 9-2 and left Medal Of Honour with his stable companion Bond Street, the 2-1 favourite, only third.
O’Brien had the winner in front after a furlong and reported: “He made his own way home and did it the hard way. It was soft ground the first day he ran and liked that better good to firm ground.”
However, on fast going at HQ, it was Caspian Prince who all but set scorch marks in the Sapphire, stopping that clock at just over 57 seconds for the Curragh five furlongs and beating the odds-on Marsha by a short head.
“It was a little bit awkward for the first five strides – the saddle shifted on him as he jumped so quick!” reported jockey Declan McDonogh. “Once I got him into that rhythm you just have to let him roll. When the filly joined she stalled a bit and it gave him a bit of heart.”