Noble Mission (Galileo) has proved a force to be reckoned with this year and grabbed his third Gr.1 of the season after a ding-dong battle with a back-to-form Al Kazeem (Dubawi) in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot Saturday.
He was adding to earlier victories at the highest level in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. The Lady Cecil-trained five-year-old, a son of Galileo and a full-brother to the brilliant racehorse Frankel (who coincidentally capped his career with victory in this race two years ago), set off in front from the start and was always travelling exuberantly at the head of affairs with the eventual second in close attendance.
Al Kazeem was brought to challenge between the two and the one pole, and they duelled to the end of the one mile and two furlongs contest, with Noble Mission coming out a head winner. It was an excellent run from the second and credit is due to his trainer Roger Charlton for bringing him back to form after an unsuccessful stint at stud. The three-year-old Free Eagle (High Chaparral), who has had an interrupted season but was highly impressive in the Gr.3 Enterprise Stakes on Irish Champions' Day, stayed on well for third, beaten a length and a quarter, whilst the French-trained favourite, Cirrus Des Aigles (Even Top), ran rather a lacklustre race in fifth.
Lady Cecil was understandably emotional after the victory and said, "I knew that if he won it would be a fairytale and it absolutely was. James gave him a brilliant ride - we knew the horse was in the form of his life, but we hardly dared to dream it could happen. It's a tough race and he absolutely toughed it out." She added, "Can you imagine when Henry died if we had given everything up? It was easier to keep going at the time and it was a way of staying close to him. I am so lucky with my owners - Prince Khalid has been incredibly loyal and the Niarchos family. I am so lucky to be at Warren Place and I don't have the words - my heart is pounding. I am so pleased for everyone at home as well."
Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah, commented on questions regarding any potential retirement of the entire, "It's in Prince Khalid's hands - he could go to stud or stay in training. Two years ago when Frankel was in this very same position I said to Prince Khalid 'They are going to ask what your plans are for the horse?' and I didn't know at the time. He just said 'That is it' and Frankel was retired - I wouldn't think he would run again this year because, he's had quite a race today."
Owned and bred by Khalid Abdullah, he is a full-brother to the Champion racehorse and sire Frankel, a three-parts brother to the Gr.3 (then) Derby Trial Stakes winner and sire Bullet Train (Sadler's Wells) and a half-sister to the dual Listed winner Joyeuse (Oasis Dream). Their dam Kind (Danehill) won the Listed Kilvington Fillies' Stakes and is a half-sister to the Gr.1 Arlington Million winner and sire Powerscourt (Sadler's Wells).
Extract from European Bloodstock News/Sportal (p)