Mission accomplished ahead of Frankel run
Tuesday 31 July 2012
1 Noble Mission (T Queally) 11-4
2 Encke (M Barzalona) 8-1
3 Michelangelo (W Buick) 6-4 Fav
By Geoffrey Riddle
A day before Frankel struts his stuff on the Sussex Downs for a second time, his full-brother, Noble Mission, took the bet365 Gordon Stakes by holding off the determined challenge of Encke at Glorious Goodwood.
Noble Mission had gone down by under a length on his previous two starts but there was no questioning his resolution, despite wearing a hood, and he held on by a nose to defeat the Godolphin challenger. Michaelangelo, the 6-4 favourite, was third.
“It’s a great start to the meeting and thankfully we got the verdict,” Tom Queally, the wining rider, said. “You never know if you’ve won but I felt Noble Mission had his head down at the right time. He took me into it sooner than I wanted and I was headed before coming back.”
The Gordon Stakes has proved to be the perfect schooling for numerous St Leger winners with Conduit (2008), Sixties Icon (2006), Millenary (2000) and Nedawi (1998) all progressing to victory at Doncaster in September in the past 15 years.
Noble Mission was cut to as short as 10-1 for the final Classic of the season by bet365, Paddy Power and Coral, although Blue Square and Ladbrokes went 14-1. Encke is a best-priced 16-1 with Paddy Power.
Both horses could meet again in three week’s time at York in the Great Voltigeur with connections keen for the rematch.
“It is a possibility he’ll go for the Great Voltigeur at the greatest racecourse in the world,” Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah and chairman of York racecourse, said. “He looks far more the finished article now and a lot more professional.
He added, in the absence of Sir Henry Cecil, who is not fit to come racing after receiving ongoing treatment for cancer: “The hood is not so much to stop him being nervous, but more for concentration. We have tried him without it and he didn’t do so well.
“Henry is probably telling me to shut up on the TV.”
Noble Mission made an encouraging debut when second on his only juvenile appearance at Yarmouth and while he clearly lacked the early verve of his sibling, he won his first two starts as a three-year-old.
A potential Derby bid was shelved after he suffered a narrow defeat at Newmarket in May, but he did run perfectly well in defeat when narrowly held by fellow Cecil runner Thomas Chippendale in Royal Ascot's King Edward VII Stakes.
“He dug deep when it mattered and I made the point of going to eyeball the other horse because last time at Ascot the winner caught him a bit by surprise,” Queally added. “We were the width of four horses away from each other.
“He travelled in to the race well but when you set him alight there is no taking him back, but he realised he had a battle on his hands and rose to it.”
Such was the heat of the battle that both horses were traded at 1.03 in-running on Betfair. Mickael Barzalona, Encke’s jockey, was found to be in breach of the whip rule by being above the permitted level and he was suspended for four days. The suspension will start on August 14.
“We are delighted with that and The Great Voltigeur is the next point of call,” Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager, said. “He ran really well and stepping up to a mile and a half has helped him.”