Nervous Frankie frets ahead of Enable's date with destiny

Another day, another big race win, Frankie Dettori certainly has a spring in his step in the autumn of his career, writes James Toney.

Dettori wasn’t Frankie in 1995 – reports still called him Lanfranco and his trademark flying dismount had yet to be patented.

But as he flew to victory on Lammtarra to win his first Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, few would have thought he'd be back at Longchamps 24 years later chasing a seventh victory in Europe's richest race and seeking history on the horse of a lifetime.

Dettori's reels off stats and facts from his career of winners, 676 group successes and counting, with precision and forensic detail. He’d be flawless if his Mastermind specialist subject was himself.

But mention Enable and the eyes start to mist and emotion croaks his voice. This mare is more than just another name in a book of rides. Win or lose, Frankie’s tears are an odds-on banker because this relationship has all the passion of the best French love affair.

Dettori's 49th birthday is just a couple of furlongs away but he's in the form of his life - winning his 17th Group One of the season, a new personal best, on Anapurna in the Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp.

However, it didn't take long for him to switch his sights to Sunday's showpiece 24 hours later, the final curtain call for a star of racing's biggest stages.

Enable has already made history as the first horse to win the Arc and Breeders' Cup in the same season, now she's looking for a third win at the Hippodrome, which would place her on pedestal on her own in the race's near century of a history.

"I'm really nervous, I'd be lying if I said anything else. We are trying to scale a mountain that has never been climbed, we are trying to achieve the impossible dream," said Dettori, who is unbeaten in 12 races with Enable, a run that includes ten Group One victories.

"The whole of Europe is here to take us on, the world is watching, everyone back home in Britain is supporting us, you can feel the expectation and you want to give those fans that special Enable moment one last time.

"It's not a gimme, everything has to go right and she needs to produce her best again. I also need to make sure I don't mess anything up.

"Jockeys often get the headlines but this day is not about me. It's about her and it's a potentially massive moment for our sport. She's one race from being immortal and it's very hard not to feel emotional when you think about it.

"I love horses but she's extra special, she's given me emotions that no other horse ever has, I just adore her so much.

"When I think back to Lammtarra all those years ago, I remember thinking it's the start of my career and I may never ride a better horse.

"And yet here I am, back in Paris, with Enable, it's hard not to pinch yourself.”

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Dettori's claims Enable's dramatic win at Ascot in midsummer, where she held off Crystal Ocean to win a breathtaking King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, was the most mentally exhausting ride of his career.

But he admits the tension of Sunday's showpiece is pushing him further to the edge. Racing's most effervescent character is best described as gently simmering.

"There'll be no other feeling like walking out of the weighing room at Longchamp to ride her. I don't think I'll know nerves like it but I'm determined to enjoy it too, I'm riding the best horse in the world, in the biggest race," he added.

"The night before is hard. You start thinking about the negatives, worrying about the ground, the tactics or your rivals. I'm best left alone to be honest, I just don't want to get it wrong.”

Dettori and trainer John Gosden know this will be the final chapter in the Enable story, and are doing their best not to think about Monday morning when realisation will hit that the tale is told.

Enable first captured the imagination with her win at Epsom's Oaks in 2017, run in torrential rain as lightning lit up leaden skies.

Perhaps we should have realised then just how cool she keeps her head while all around are losing theirs.

"I've ridden some great fillies and I think this one will get better and better," said Dettori back then.

How right he was and now for one last hurrah as the best horse in the world, and the most beloved of jockey, eye the greatest of prizes.