Enable's story: Aristocratic Longchamp to down to earth Newcastle, the racetrack where it all began

Yahoo Sport UK

There is just under 600 miles from Newcastle to Longchamp, two race tracks that even on the closest of inspections appear to have very little in common, writes James Toney.

It's lively crowd who enjoy their sport at English racing's most northerly outpost while at Longchamp, situated in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris's 16th arrondissement, you'd think the days of European monarchy were still in full swing.

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It's not quite powered wigs and pantaloons but it is haughty, coiffed and aristocratic - and that's not just the thoroughbreds.

The place smells expensive and whatever you are wearing you will feel underdressed. You would certainly not get a pie, pint and punt for a fiver but the tartare de boeuf charolais could well be the best thing you've ever eaten.

And yet every story has its beginning and these two very different arenas - one on the frayed fringes of its sport and the other in the full glare of the brightest spotlight - are destined to be indelibly linked by the legend of Enable.

Trainer John Gosden's filly will line up with jockey Frankie Dettori in this Sunday's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, seeking to become the first horse in history to win Europe's richest prize three times.

In almost one hundred renewals, eight horses have won the Arc twice. Enable will face 11 rivals to make history and crown a career for which most superlatives have already been ruled as insufficient.

It will be her 15th and final run, one last thundering charge for the winning post on a resume that includes ten Group One victories and over nine million pounds in prize money.

But whatever unfolds in this eagerly-awaited last chapter, the story will always begin in Newcastle, on a chilly Monday lunchtime in November that locals might describe as nithering.

Gosden's charge wasn't the favourite when she lined up in a Maiden Fillies' Stakes on that track's all-weather tapeta surface. But she emerged a winner, stalking the field and hitting the accelerator in the final furlong in a style that quickly become a trademark.

That day she won her connections a princely ยฃ2,911.05, this weekend she is racing for a prize that multiplies that amount 981 times.

However, for those in attendance it must have been like watching the Beatles at The Cavern Club or a young George Best strapping on his boots for Cregagh Boys.

Only they probably didn't notice.

"When she arrived with us as a yearling we quite quickly realised what great heart room she had, her cardio vascular system was quite enlarged compared to the rest off her and she had enormous lung capacity," recalls Gosden, who has won three Champion Trainer titles, 17 British classics and 100 Group One races but admits he may never have another horse like Enable.

"I don't remember too much detail about that first race in Newcastle, other than she won it well but it's always hard to really predict a future at that age. We thought she was good but I'd be lying if we thought she'd be this special.

"She was only two and then everything started to grow and get into proportion and she filled out. I suppose that's when we started to realise just what a horse we had. She's always loved training, her ears are always pricked. She's got a fantastic racing eye and awareness on the race track.

โ€œSheโ€™s always been enthusiastic, that's never changed about her."

RELATED: Dettori already has his Ascot statue, surely Enable now needs hers

A break of 144 days followed before the next race, which remains the only defeat on her record, beaten by stable mate Shutter Speed, ironically ridden by Dettori, at Newbury.

Dettori then formed their formidable and symbiotic partnership, the pair combining for a winning streak of 12 races, with five Group Ones in the 2017 season chalked up by an average winning distance of four and a half lengths.

Some horses peak in their three-year old campaign - burned out by the pursuit of Classic success - but Gosden has long believed it would be this year when she'd truly mature, gently nudging owner Khalid Abdullah to keep her in training.

And how he's been rewarded, a confident win in the Eclipse, a brilliantly dramatic second King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes victory at Ascot and another Yorkshire Oaks too.

Now all boulevards led to Paris, a coeur vaillant rien d'impossible.

"When she was younger she just used to run with total exuberance and loved to win races by a distance, know she's wiser, she's a bit like that canny boxer who prefers to win fights on points," said Gosden, a warning that Sunday will be a test of nerves all the way to the line.

"She has become more race aware as she has got older and she knows how to do just enough but the Arc is one of the toughest races to judge. We're in the hands of racing luck and fate, so deep breaths and stay cool."

This weekend thousands of Brits will travel by planes, trains and automobiles in hope and expectation, seizing one last chance to see this all-conquering queen in the sport of kings.

Gosden recalls making a similar five hour pilgrimage from his Newmarket home to see Desert Orchid win his Gold Cup at Cheltenham, one of racing's great 'I was there' moments.

"I arrived just before the off, cheered him home, had a cup of tea and got back in the car - it was worth every moment," he recalls.

"Hopefully Enable can give everyone similar memories, we know weโ€™ve got huge support making the journey and thatโ€™s very humbling. In flat racing our horses are often here and gone too fast but she's stayed around a bit longer and people just love her."

Gosden likes to say he's in the entertainment business and there's no name in brighter lights than Enable.

So please offer Sunday morning prayers for one last triumphant curtain call.

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