King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes: Enable to prevail again

It’s perhaps something of a surprise that Enable is back in training this season.

She achieved everything that there is to achieve last term, becoming the first Arc winner to follow up in the Breeders' Cup the following month – a feat which had been attempted by eight others before her.

Enable winning the Coral-Eclipse (Group 1)
Enable winning the Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) Picture: Pat Healy Photography

However, the lure of becoming the first ever horse to win three Arcs has proven to be too strong a temptation, and John Gosden's star mare returned from a 245-day absence to pick up her tenth straight success in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown earlier this month – and she did so in fine style, never looking likely to be beaten despite the trip perhaps being a touch on the sharp side. Strictly on Timeform ratings, the form she has shown both this season and last is short of the dizzy heights she achieved as a three-year-old, but she is a long way clear of the field nonetheless, and the return to a mile and a half here only strengthens her case. Of course, a tilt at Arc win number three is the ultimate aim, but she is the one to beat in a race which she won as a three-year-old back in 2017.

CRYSTAL OCEAN winning the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot in England.
CRYSTAL OCEAN winning the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot in England. Picture: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

The biggest threat to Enable will undoubtedly come from Crystal Ocean , who picked up his first Group 1 success in her absence in last month's Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. The two have met before, when Enable readily dispatched her rival on favourable terms when winning on her reappearance in the September Stakes at Kempton last season, but Crystal Ocean has taken big strides forward since, proving better than ever when scoring last month. Admittedly, Frankie Dettori produced an excellent ride on the day for him to do so, making use of the pacemaker's services to maximum effect, but it was a top-class performance nonetheless, and he will be ready to capitalise should Enable falter – in a race in which he was only narrowly denied 12 months ago.

Anthony Van Dyck
Anthony Van Dyck Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Only one other runner of the 11-strong field is a single figure price in the betting at the time of writing, this year's Derby hero, Anthony Van Dyck . Having fallen just short at the top level as a two-year-old, he put his abundance of stamina to good use when coming out on top in the Epsom classic last month, and although he was unable to follow up in the Irish equivalent four weeks later, he has valid excuses for that considering he was left too much to do that day, when stablemate Sovereign slipped the field. He has something to find with both Enable and Crystal Ocean for win purposes, however, and a place is perhaps the best he can hope for.

DEFOE  Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Next in the betting are Defoe  and Waldgeist. The first-named perhaps failed to quite kick on as expected at the top table last season, having promised so much the campaign before, but he has been in good heart so far this term, and picked up his first top level success in the Coronation Cup at Epsom in May (Salouen third, Morandoeighth), winning readily. He didn't need to be in the same form to follow up in the Hardwicke last time out, and the fact that the Epsom form didn't particularly work out in the same race (Morando fourth, Salouen seventh) means that he will require more to trouble the principals. Waldgeist won the Prix Ganay at Lonchamp in April, and ran respectably in the Prince of Wales's last time, making his challenge from further back than ideal, though like Defoe, his very best form is a little shy of that achieved by both Crystal Ocean and Enable.

Another to note is the Japanese raider, Cheval Grand. He is a very smart performer, winning the 2017 Japan Cup at Tokyo, and he ran well on his first start outside of Japan when second to Old Persian in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March – for all that he was no match for the winner on the day. This is a different task altogether on his European debut, but he is a fascinating inclusion, and connections will be hopeful of hitting the frame. Meanwhile, both Morando and Salouen have place claims at best.

The field is completed by Anthony Van Dyck's stablemates, Hunting HornMagic Wand and Norway. All three are smart performers in their own right, but have a considerable amount to find for win purposes, and it seems likely that one of the trio will be required for pacemaker duties – something Norway shared with the ultimately victorious Sovereign when a commendable third in last month's Irish Derby.

In conclusion, it is very difficult to look past Enable, who added yet another Group 1 success to her collection when making a winning return in the Coral-Eclipse earlier this month, and she will be very difficult to beat if in the same mood here. Crystal Ocean is the main danger having picked up a first Group 1 success at Royal Ascot last month, while Anthony Van Dyck, Waldgeist and Defoe seem the most likely to battle it out for third.