Frankie Dettori is thinking and worrying every day about whether he will ride Enable or Cracksman should the two outstanding stable companions go head to head in a showdown the world’s most famous rider likens to Flat racing’s Kauto Star versus Denman.
John Gosden has already indicated the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe would be the most obvious stage for an enthralling meeting between the winner of last year’s European championship and the colt who surged to superstardom with his rout of the Champion Stakes field.
While Anthony Oppenheimer’s Cracksman is on course to reappear in the Prix Ganay on April 29, no definite target has been set for the return of the Khalid Abdullah-owned Enable, who last year took the Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks en route to her dazzling Arc triumph.
Before attending the qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 fan Dettori made clear he was already debating whether he would eventually choose Enable or Cracksman, who are generally quoted at 3-1 and 5-1 for the Arc.
“Absolutely, I’m thinking about it 100 per cent,” said Dettori. “I think about it every day – but at the moment I still have a few months to worry about it.
“I’m sure if they are both healthy they will meet somewhere along the line but we don’t know after six months how they will have progressed. We will cross that bridge when we get to it. Let’s just carry on dreaming for the moment.
“It’s an unbelievable situation for us to be in. To have two horses like Enable and Cracksman in the same year is so exciting. It’s a bit like when Paul Nicholls had Denman and Kauto Star.
“They are two exceptional horses. I don’t want to look to the stars too much. I just hope they stay in one piece and come back as good as they were last year. If they do we’re going to have great fun.”
Assessing the rest of Gosden’s string, Dettori said: “John ran quite a few horses in November and December when I was away, including a couple of nice maiden winners who could be anything.
“We haven’t asked big questions of any of them because of the bad weather but there are some exciting times ahead. Remember that at this stage last year we didn’t know Enable was going to be anywhere near as good as she turned out.”
Although also retained by Al Shaqab for 2018, Dettori has been forging another strong relationship with Bahrain’s royal family, having on Friday added victory in the country’s Gold Cup on former Richard Fahey inmate Thorkhill Star to his wins aboard ex-Ballydoyle team member Shogun in the Crown Prince Cup and King’s Cup.
Both horses are trained by Allan Smith and owned by Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
“Sheikh Isa is very keen on racing and has already had a couple of horses in Britain with John,” said Dettori.
“He’s part of a new generation getting into racing, which is good for the sport. For him to have won the three big races in Bahrain in the same season is quite a neat feat.”
Smith said: “We’re actually thinking of bringing Thorkhill Star to England this summer, where he would be based with my son, Martin, in Newmarket.
“I think he would be competitive in Group 3 or Listed class, so we might look towards York and maybe the Strensall Stakes, although if he gets a rating of under 100 we could also think about a decent handicap.”