Emotional scenes were played out at Ascot on Saturday as Noble Mission followed in the footsteps of his illustrious brother Frankel by winning the QIPCO Champion Stakes, writes Graham Clark.
Given an enterprising ride from the front by James Doyle, the five-year-old — who is trained in Newmarket by Lady Cecil — called upon all his reserves in the mile-and-a-quarter Group One contestby digging deeper than he has ever done before to beat Al Kazeem and serve one of the finishes of the season.
Victory for the son of Galileo comes two years after his full brother Frankel toasted victory in the race, which was to be his final racetrack appearance.
“It was a great day and it was probably one of the biggest wins of my career as the Champion Stakes is not an easy race to win,” said Doyle, who is based in Newmarket. “There was the whole fairytale story behind Noble Mission and to be a small part of what happened was great.”
While still on a high after the victory, which saw him pick up a £10,000 fine and seven-day ban for excessive use of the whip, the 26-year-old has stressed that the result produced mixed emotions for him.
“I knew Al Kazeem would be tough to beat as he was back to his best when he run in the Arc and I thought I was beat when he headed us inside the final furlong, but Noble Mission is just so tough and his determination saw him home,” said Doyle. “At the same time as winning aboard Noble Mission, it was great to see Al Kazeem run so well as he was the horse who put me on the map.”
Noble Mission was not the only Newmarket-trained winner down in Berkshire with the David Simcock-trained Madame Chiang winning the QIPCO Fillies’ and Mares Stakes.
It was a notable 48 hours for the Birdcage Walk handler after Casper Netscher lifted the Grade Two Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday, a meeting which also saw the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Hillstar win the Grade One Pattison Canadian International.