Some things are written in the stars, and as Noble Mission, trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil’s wife, Lady Cecil, battled all the way to claim the Champion Stakes at Ascot by a neck you can’t help but feel this was one of those moments.
Emulating his more famous full brother, Frankel, by winning this race, Noble Mission has cemented his place in history after an epic battle with the Roger Charlton-trained Al Kazeem, who was the most courageous of runners-up after returning from stud half way through the flat season.
With so many possible headlines to be written on Champion’s Day at Ascot, this was the one that everyone pined for.
Lady Cecil has battled on admirably since the death of her illustrious husband and to win this race which Sir Henry Cecil won two years previous with Frankel, “the horse that kept him alive”, was a fitting climax to their season.
Jockey James Doyle jumped the gate on Mission and sent him immediately to the front, which is where he stayed until two furlongs out.
He was joined by outsider Al Kazeem, who briefly passed him on the run in before Mission showed the guts and determination of a champion to deny Al Kazeem and deliver a fairytale ending.
A tearful Lady Cecil said: “I was interviewed before the race, which I didn’t really want to do, and I said it would be a fairytale, That’s what it feels like to me.
“We hardly dared to dream. We knew he was in great shape but it was a tough race. This is so special because of what happened two years ago.
“I keep thinking I’m in a dream. 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.”
Doyle picked up a seven-day ban and a £10,000 fine for overuse of the whip, but that is just a mere inconvenience for creating history.
Although it rules him out of the Melbourne Cup and the Breeders Cup the pilot accepted the punishment well and was humble about his victory.
It was a mostly disappointing weekend for local trainers as the David O’Meara duo of G Force and Custom Cut both failed to fire in their respective races. The Brian Ellison-trained Top Notch Tonto was disappointing, although all three were not helped by the wide draws they had.
The final group 1 of the flat season takes place this weekend at Doncaster as 13 two-year-old colts are declared for the Racing Post Trophy.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien is responsible for six of the entries which makes life very difficult as he is sure to whittle this down to two entries by Thursday’s declaration time.
Obviously with the firepower available to him, whichever horses he chooses to run should be feared but I would be most confident about Jacobean should he be declared.
He was a fast finishing second in a strong maiden at the Curragh first time out and although he was beaten by his stable mate Royal Navy Ship, who is also entered for this race, Jacobean was sent off favourite that day and was chosen to be ridden by stable jockey Joseph O’Brien which would strongly suggest they believe him to be the best of the two horses at home.
If Jacobean is declared then he will certainly be my selection but to be on the safe side I would also take a plunge with outsider Cock of the North, who has held his form admirably well and has been massively overlooked at the current 25-1.
Trained by the relatively unheralded Scott Dixon, Cock of the North will certainly relish the predicted soft ground more than his opposition and after winning the early season Brocklesby Cup here at Doncaster he doesn’t have that much to find on form anyway.
Beadle’s Top Tips
Racing Post Trophy, Doncaster, Saturday: Jacobean, Cock of the North.