Gosden and Dettori - Pulling the strings in the 'Sport of Kings'

John Gosden
John Gosden

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) - John Gosden and Frankie Dettori are probably the best trainer-jockey combination since Vincent O'Brien and Lester Piggott ruled the "Sport of Kings" 40 years ago and in Enable and Stradivarius provide the two star attractions at the prestigious York Ebor meeting this week.

Gosden supplied Dettori with his 14th Group One winner of the season as he rode Coronet to victory on Sunday, leaving him just two shy of his personal record achieved back in 2001.

The exuberant 48-year-old Italian will renew his partnership with Gosden's two superstars, the remarkable mare Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday and then the stayer Stradivarius in the Group Two Lonsdale Cup on Friday.

The latter could scoop a one-million-pound ($1.2 million) bonus for the second year running in landing the treble of Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale.

Gosden said with Enable only having three rivals "anything can happen", opening up the possibility of her being beaten for only the second time in 14 starts in what is expected to be her last ever appearance on a British racetrack.

But Gosden, 68, says it is simply a final stepping stone to Enable's real target this season, a record third win in Europe's most prestigious race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, on October 6.

Gosden -- who handed Dettori a lifeline when his career was in the doldrums after he received a six-month ban for testing positive for cocaine at the end of 2012 -- says Enable's qualities resemble those of other sports champions.

"Obviously she has great presence and is very proud," he told AFP.

"She also has great physical ability as well as huge mental ability.

"You get to notice if the horses have mental strength when you are building them up in training, they show a positive and competitive attitude.

"Rather like tennis players their mental strength distinguishes the great players from the good ones.

"No person or animal's body is fine-tuned unless the mind is in harmony with it.

"Football coaches would say the same thing that a player will not perform unless their mind is in the right place."

- 'Awfully fun horse' -

Gosden, whose stable star has won just over £9 million ($10.9 million), says Enable is "special and great to be around."

The urbane Englishman says he is happiest for is the owner and breeder of Enable, Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah.

"We are trying to do something that has never been done before (win the Arc)," said Gosden.

"The Prince has been a great supporter of French racing, indeed of racing all over the world, and would deserve to be part of history.

"He was extraordinarily loyal to Henry (Cecil) when his life was drifting off the rails a little bit.

"He (Abdullah) could have walked away but he stayed loyal and was rewarded with that fairytale of Frankel," the legendary horse that won 14 of his 14 races giving his popular trainer Cecil a grand farewell before he died of cancer in June 2013.

Stradivarius, who is also owned by South Africa-born breeder Bjorn Nielsen, is a vastly different type to Enable, Gosden says.

"He is a real character, a push-button type in that he only does what he has to do," said Gosden.

"He is a lovely little fellow and goes against what one would usually consider is your archetypal top stayer."

Stradivarius, who nearly missed out on the Goodwood Cup last time out when Dettori celebrated too early, faces a tough task having to concede a lot of weight to the three-year-olds.

One thing is for certain though -- win or lose, Stradivarius will still be in cheeky form.

"He is an awfully fun horse, he has a great sense of humour," said Gosden, who added with a smile: "Mine by contrast gets tested a bit."

The Cambridge University economics graduate is mindful of the good fortune he has.

"We should cherish every moment when we have these type of horses, because they don't come along very often."



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