Noble Mission Wins Champions Day

£4m Qipco Britain’s Champions Day, the richest raceday, took place at Ascot with one horse on course for a prize money milestone and another seeking a Royal triumph. Noble Mission, ridden by James Doyle for trainer Lady Cecil, matched his legendary elder brother Frankel by leading from the front and winning the Champion Stakes by a neck after a thrilling duel with runner-up Al Kazeem and with Free Eagle in third. Lady Cecil took over Noble Mission’s training licence after the death last summer of her husband, 10-time champion trainer and a racing icon Sir Henry Cecil who oversaw wonder horse Frankel’s unbeaten 14-race career. Frankel’s final victory came two years ago in this mile-and-a-quarter contest, the feature race.

Noble Mission, the good-looking five-year-old, owned by the stable’s principal patron, Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah, has been better than ever this season, reveling in front-running tactics under jockey James Doyle. “James gave him a great ride as he (Noble Mission) really had to dig deep,” said Lady Cecil. “He’s just enjoying it so much these days – he loves his racing. It’s a great team effort, I’m so lucky.

“Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Noble Mission’s owner, added: “It’s a fairytale, it really is.” George Scott, the assistant to Lady Cecil after a stirring triumph that would lift the hardest of souls said “It feels like yesterday for her when Sir Henry Cecil died. She says it gets harder not easier.” Noble Mission’s victory for her in the Champion Stakes at Ascot was undoubtedly a proper sporting fairytale.

Lady Cecil was shaking a little as victory, following a front-running ride from jockey James Doyle, sank in. “I knew that if he won it would be a fairytale and it absolutely was,” said the 47-year-old. “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. “This is so special because of what happened two years ago – I keep thinking I’m in a dream and will wake up. It has come true hasn’t it? “I had my head in my hands because I didn’t think he would hang on, but he’s so brave.”

As for the future, Lady Cecil described herself as “quite a determined person”, looking forward keenly to 2015. The race is likely to be Noble Mission’s last hurrah before stud duties beckon, as it was for Frankel when he made it 14 wins from 14 career starts in the 2012 staging. Sadly, that was also the last public sighting for many of Sir Henry Cecil before his brave struggle against ca_78375200_ladyjanececilncer was lost. Success two years on really would be poignant for all concerned.

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