Enable and Stradivarius are set to lead a strong team for champion trainer John Gosden at York next week.
The brilliant Enable is on course for the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on the Thursday of the four-day Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, with Stradivarius once more in line for the £1million Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ bonus if he can win the Lonsdale Cup on the Friday.
Connections of Enable have opted for the Yorkshire Oaks – which she won in 2017 – over the Juddmonte International as the five-year-old prepares for her attempt at an unprecedented third consecutive triumph in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The Khalid Abdullah-owned mare has already won the Coral-Eclipse and King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes this season.
Gosden said: “We are pointing at the Yorkshire Oaks – we were keen to stay at a mile and a half, rather than coming back in trip again – and obviously trying to use it as a springboard to the Arc.
“She has had a nice easy time since the King George. She just did a breeze on her own with Frankie (Dettori) on her on Saturday – into a strong headwind, so they just did a nice quiet bit.
“She’ll pick up again in her work this week, but she is out there enjoying herself, looking well and moving nicely.
“She’s a lovely filly, obviously, and she has done extremely well this year. She really enjoys her training and her racing, which obviously makes the trainer’s job a lot easier.
“Everyone is interested in her when she is out on the (Newmarket) Heath. So we are very lucky to have a filly like that in the stables.
“Obviously it comes with plenty of responsibility, but all being well we’ll be there next Thursday with her. She has been to York before. The crowd were thrilled to see her last time she was there when she came after the King George.”
La Ti Dar could be in opposition to Enable, with Gosden adding: “Lah Ti Dar may well be in the Oaks as well.
“The owner-breeders are very keen to run her – they’ve been wanting to run her in the race all year, so I’m sure that’s where she’ll probably be going. She is training nicely.”
Like last year, Stradivarius will arrive on the Knavesmire on the back of victories in the Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup.
Gosden said: “He is as cheeky as ever! He is full of himself, a very happy horse. He is training up nicely for the race. Obviously, the Goodwood Cup was not that long ago, so we come into the Lonsdale just trying to keep the freshness in him.
“He probably had tougher races coming through last year – the Gold Cup last year was a formidable race, whereas they probably didn’t go as hard this year. Therefore, for him, it didn’t drain him so much.”
Gosden will be represented in the Juddmonte International on the opening afternoon through King Of Comedy, who has not run since his fast-finishing second in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
It will be a first try at 10 furlongs for the Kingman colt, but Gosden said: “We feel that is his trip. Since Royal Ascot this has been the plan.”
Headlining the undercard to the International on Wednesday is the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes.
Gosden intends to run the unbeaten Logician, who was last seen winning a handicap at Newbury.
He said: “We are planning at this moment to run Logician in the Voltigeur. Obviously it’s a considerable move up in class, but he has been going nicely at home.”
With such high-profile runners comes expectation and with it pressure – but Gosden has a measured viewpoint on the situation.
He said: “It’s a whole lot tougher if you don’t have horses of the quality to compete at a meeting like York.
“If you have something that can compete there that is, funny enough, less pressure than not finding a horse that can compete there. That’s tough to live with if you’re a trainer and I think that’s something that people forget.
“We feel York is a phenomenal racecourse and the Ebor meeting is a real stand-out in the year. And I always say the Yorkshire crowd are definitely the most knowledgeable and the most passionate of racegoers.
“So it’s very fulfilling if you can find horses good enough to run in these races.”