On Sunday Enable will carry the famous colours of Khalid Abdullah in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and attempt to cap a memorable season with victory in Europe’s biggest race.
The dual Classic winner has been one of the stars of the season and bids to cement a place alongside the numerous Juddmonte greats who have raced over the past 40 years.
Overseeing many of those successes has been Teddy Grimthorpe, the highly-respected racing manager for Khalid Abdullah. Grimthorpe joined us to talk about the weekend and some of the other Juddmonte stars to look forward to over the weeks ahead.
Enable has come from a Newcastle maiden win to being one of the star names of the season. Did you ever expect that to happen?
We always felt she was pretty nice but not the finished article. When she ran at Newcastle first time John [Gosden] wanted a straight, galloping course and it was a good beginning. Come the spring it looked like we had two nice fillies in Enable and Shutter Speed and John wanted to get them both going. We knew they were going in different directions and if we waited a week it would’ve upset one of the other so that’s why they took on each other at Newbury and Shutter Speed was a bit sharper. William Buick got off Enabe and said he felt she could be very decent.
When did you first know she might be extra special?
We were pretty hopeful going into Chester with her and I was even more encouraged by the reaction of Ballydoyle after she had won the Cheshire Oaks as they had been expecting good things from Alluringly. By then we knew she was pretty smart and we were bullish going to the Oaks. From there she has gone from strength to strength.
Enable is now favourite for the Arc. If she wins, how big an achievement will that be?
We have to concentrate on the race itself. In golfing terms it’s a little like thinking three putts ahead and suddenly you’ve missed the putt you should be getting. This is her stiffest challenge yet, after quite a lengthy campaign, so it’s going to be a big ask. She goes into the race in great form, she’s taken all the racing very well and obviously coming into the race she doesn’t know she’s odds-on favourite. She has to have an excellent chance, there’s no doubt about that.
Frankel, Juddmonte’s most famous horse, continues to attract huge amounts of attention. What has it been like to be involved with him?
It’s been extraordinary and an utter privilege to be involved with him really. I think everyone at Juddmonte has been blown away by ‘Frankel love’ and the way it continues. Usually when a horse goes to stud the outside interest in that horse wains – it’s natural. His has never stopped and the public interest has never been stronger. Really excitingly his first crop have performed pretty spectacularly and it looks like he’s going to make a real mark as a stallion.
One of Frankel’s most exciting runners is your own Herculean. What do you makes of him?
He’s quite an interesting colour! Like his father he’s a great mover and always has been. He has a lovely, easy motion and he’s very much a work in progress. He’s a big, scopey and substantial horse and he’s only going to get better.
And how do you rate his prospects in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge on Saturday?
If the ground hadn’t been so poor at Haydock we’d have gone there with him as the plan had been not to do too much too soon. Having said that, we looked at the Royal Lodge and it looks an opportunity for him to do well.
Talking of talented two-year-olds, how are things with Expert Eye?
He goes for the Dewhurst. He seems to be back on track and in good form. Sir Michael [Stoute] is very pleased with him and the horse is training well. We can’t wait to see him as he’s looked very good.
Kingman was another star to carry Khalid Abdullah’s colours. He is now a stallion with his first two-year-olds racing next year. How do you think he will do as a sire?
I was saying to someone the other day that you have to watch the replay of his Sussex Stakes win – it was an extraordinary performance and one you don’t see on a racecourse very often. First reactions have been very good. I saw all our yearlings this week and they look pretty smart. They all look like him – strong, bay colours – and in fairness every stallion farm in the world is going to say the first crop of their new stallion is wonderful, but I think they look smart. Roger Varian bought a colt at the sales this week for €650,000 and he was pretty chuffed with him. He’s been given a great chance and I think from that point of view he has every chance.
And, finally, you are also chairman of York racecourse. It has been mentioned that Winx, the Australian superstar, could run in the 2018 Juddmonte International. How much would you like to see that happen?
It would be hugely exciting. She’s an absolutely wonderful filly and to see her on these shores would be something alone. I would be so chuffed to bits to get her to the Juddmonte International. I think the York crowd would embrace it in a major way. They love to see good horses at York – as everyone does – but the York crowd get involved and stuck in, so to see Winx on the Knavesmire would be a truly wonderful thing.