Excelebration celebrates without his nemesis

Dual French Group 1 winner

Excelebration stepped out of the shadow of Frankel in the Prix Jacques le Marois to affirm his status as a top miler of his generation. In one of the top French races over that distance, the home contingent were outclassed, as Aidan O’Brien’s horse took the prize back to Ireland, with English trained horses in second and third place.

The victory sets Excelebration up as the horse to beat over a mile now that his regular conqueror is moving up in distance, and he won’t be short of challengers. Yesterday’s race had no fewer than nine individual Group 1 winners taking part, which shows there really is plenty of depth in this division. Excelebration’s win also gives him automatic entry into the Breeders Cup mile at Santa Anita later in the year, should O’Brien want to go there.

O’Brien wasn’t at Deauville to watch Excelebration, but you sensed in his comments after the race that he was pleased and relieved that the horse had lived up to his billing as Frankel’s bridesmaid (albeit the wrong sex). He said, “We were very excited about Excelebration when he won first time out for us. They didn’t go much pace in the Lockinge and we probably made too much of him in the Queen Anne. But we were up against Frankel both times.”

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Without that challenge, Excelebration was able to keep close up behind leaders Cityscape and Elusive Kate in a race where it clearly paid off to race prominently, as no other horse was able to pass any of them.

Roger Charlton was more than happy with the runner up spot for Cityscape, who fully vindicated the trainer’s view that the ten furlongs of the Eclipse was too far for his charge. Charlton said, “He galloped all the way to the line and you can’t be anything other than proud of the horse for being so consistent. He’s been running consistently well since he was a two-year-old and been beaten by a slightly better horse.”

John Gosden had reason to be delighted with Elusive Kate, who was representing both the three year olds and the fillies. To ask a horse to run three times in a month isn’t that unusual, but to do so in three Group 1 races is. Perhaps Elusive Kate’s best hope of winning yesterday lay in her having won three times at Deauville before, but this time round it was just too much for her.

Gosden said, “She’s run another super race – you cold see she and Cityscape were controlling the race up front. They went a good pace early, took a breather and then went again. I’m thrilled, and a mile is her trip.”

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