Excelebration Among Stars on Big Day at Ascot

Excelebration Among Stars on Big Day at Ascot
Photo: John Gillmore
Excelebration tops a field of eight in the QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Order This Photo

Excelebration, arguably the world’s second-best miler behind Frankel, tops a field of eight set for the QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) on Oct. 20 at Ascot.

The race is the co-feature among five group stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day along with the Champion Stakes (Eng-I), in which superstar Frankel again stretches out to 1 1/4 miles and bids to close his racing career unbeaten in 14 starts. Frankel won last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes to cap his 3-year-old season and earn the Cartier Award as Europe’s Horse of the Year.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Excelebration previously has finished as the runner-up to Frankel four times and third once. Without Frankel to contend with, he looks to be the horse to beat in this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

O’Brien bypassed a meeting with Frankel in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes (Eng-I) Aug. 1 and shipped Excelebration to Deauville in France, where he faced a stern test against eight other group I winners in the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) Aug. 12. He scored handily by 1 1/4 lengths after dispatching pacesetter Elusive Kate and Cityscape inside the final furlong.  

Both Elusive Kate, who finished third, and Cityscape, who was second, return in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Trained by John Gosden, who sends out Nathaniel to meet Khalid Abdullah’s Frankel in the Champion Stakes, 3-year-old filly Elusive Kate comes in off a runner-up finish to subsequent E. P. Taylor Stakes (Can-I) winner Siyouma in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Eng-I) Sept. 29 at Newmarket.

Prince Khalid’s Cityscape bids to regain the winning stride he displayed in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) March 31 at Meydan. He finished fourth to Nathaniel in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) in July at Sandown before the Jacques Le Marois. The 6-year-old by Selkirk enters off a third-place finish to Wise Dan after briefly leading early in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (Can-I) Sept. 16.

Trainer Brian Meehan sends out Most Improved, winner of the St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) in June at Royal Ascot. He looks to rebound from a pair of disappointing performances, including a last-place finish behind Excelebration at Deauville.

British Champions Day is the culmination of 35 top British flat races that comprise five championship categories: Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance, and Fillies and Mares.

The QE II is the finale in the Mile division and Champion Stakes is the finale in the Middle Distance division.

Three other group races start the Champions Day card, beginning with the QIPCO Long Distance Cup (Eng-III), a two-mile stamina test in which the past three winners of the Gold Cup (Eng-I) will face off in the nine-horse field: Colour Vision (2012); Fame And Glory (2011), who won last year’s Long Distance Cup; and Rite of Passage (2010). Opinion Poll, a two-time Gold Cup runner-up (2012, 2011) and runner-up in last year’s Long Distance Cup, is also in the field.

The QIPCO British Champion Sprint Stakes (Eng-II) attracted 15 runners, including French-based filly Wizz Kid, who finished second in the race last year and last out denied favorite Mayson in the Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (Fr-I) Oct. 7.

William Haggas’ 2011 Investec Oaks (Eng-I) winner Dancing Rain will take on nine as she seeks a repeat win in the QIPCO British Champion Fillies and Mares (Eng-II). The 4-year-old Danehill Dancer filly will start for the first time this season as she has been sidelined with an injury and subsequent surgery following an unplaced finish behind Snow Fairy last November in Japan.

Most Popular Stories