Excelebration Rolls in Soggy Prix du Moulin

Excelebration earned a well-deserved group I victory when he overcame the testing course conditions to win the $614,097 Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-I) (Video)Sept. 11.

The Marco Botti-trained son of Exceed And Excel, who had captured the CGA Hungerford Stakes (Eng-II) in his last start, was making just his second foray into group I company. His previous attempt resulted in a solid third-place finish to Frankel in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot in June.

A field of eight went to the post in the one mile contest, which was run in a steady rain over a boggy turf course. In addition to Excelebration, other contenders in the race were Dubawi Gold, a Richard Hannon trainee who had captured the Betfair Celebration Mile (Eng-II) in his most recent start; Tin Horse, winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Fr-I) in May, and Planteur, winner of the Prix Ganay (Fr-I) earlier this year. Not to be overlooked were the hard-knocking Rio de La Plata and the Freddy Head-trained Rajsaman.

Longshot Handsome Maestro broke sharply and shot straight to the front to set the pace. Rio de La Plata, ridden by Frankie Dettori, followed in second, with Jamie Spencer settling Excelebration just behind that pair in third. Thierry Jarnet kept Rajsaman on the rail in fourth, as Dubawi Gold was held up in last by Richard Hughes through the early going.

Handsome Maestro continued to wing it on the front end, leading by as many as six lengths as he led the field through the first few furlongs. Rio de La Plata continued to race in second, with Excelebration racing comfortably in third.

As the field swept through the turn and entered the home straight, Handsome Maestro began to show the strain from his earlier exertions and began to fade. Rio de La Plata was the first to pounce, easily overtaking Handsome Maestro to take a slight lead with two furlongs to go.

Hot on his heels was Excelebration, who showed a sharp turn of foot to shoot past the Godolphin runner and take the lead. Rio de La Plata tried to rally but it was of no use, as Excelebration charged to an impressive 1 1/2-length victory.

Rajsaman finished third, just a half-length behind Rio de La Plata. Dubawi Gold passed tired horses late to take fourth. The final time for the eight furlongs over the soft going was 1:37.74.

A delighted Botti said after the race, “I was a bit worried about the ground, but he got away with it. He’s got two options now, either going to Ascot (for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Eng-I) or to the Breeders’ Cup and it’s up to the owners to decide. He’ll either have to face Frankel or Goldikova, but he deserves the chance to step up to another level.”

Excelebration is owned by Giuliano Manfredini, who recently sold a percentage of the colt to the team of John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. The colt will stand at Coolmore upon his retirement.

Excelebration was bred in Ireland by Owenstown Stud, and is out of the Indian Ridge mare, Sun Shower.

Reliable Man Impressive in Prix Niel

Earlier in the day, Reliable Man stamped his ticket for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) with a commanding victory in the $177,406 Qatar Prix Niel (Fr-II).

The win also earned the son of Dalakhani an automatic berth in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), since it is part of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships “Win and You’re In” series of races.

A small but select field of six went to the post in the Prix Niel, led by Reliable Man and Meandre. Reliable Man, who won the Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I) in June, hoped to turn the tables on the Andre Fabre-trained Meandre, who had handed him his only loss in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I) in July.

Ridden once again by Gerald Mosse, Reliable Man was kept much closer to the pace this time around, and was settled into third just behind the early pacesetters King of Arnor and Colombian.

Mosse kept Reliable Man just behind the leaders throughout most of the race. With two furlongs left to run, Mosse moved his colt into the clear and they charged into the lead, eventually drawing off to win easily by two lengths.

Meandre closed late to take second, with Vadamar just a neck further back in third. The final time for the 12 furlongs, which was contested before the rain hit, was 2:32.43 over the good to soft going.

Alain de Royer-Dupre trains Reliable Man for the Pride Racing Club. The grey colt was bred in England by N.P. Bloodstock, and is out of the stakes-winning Sadler’s Wells’ mare, On Fair Stage. His second dam, Fair Salinia, won the English Oaks (Eng-I), Irish Oaks (Ire-I), and Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I), as a 3-year-old in 1978.

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