Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Post: A Day for "Excelebration" at the Curragh

Ballydoyle’s Excelebration made easy work of yesterday’s G3 Gladness Stakes at the Curragh, highlighting an excellent card at the popular Irish fixture.

A four-year-old by Exceed and Excel, Excelebration was purchased privately by the Coolmore clan last August following his decisive six length win in the G2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury in England. By purchasing Excelebration to later stand at stud, Coolmore tapped into the prolific line of Darley’s Exceed and Excel, who shuttles between Sheikh Mohammed’s Kelvinside Farm in Australia and Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, England. Exceed and Excel got off to a fast start at stud, siring Australian G2 winner Wilander, from the family of Black Caviar, in his first crop. Wilander was quickly followed by G1 winner Reward for Effort in Exceed’s second crop, and, three years later, he is now the sire of four individual G1 winners, namely Helmet, winner of the Sires Produce, Champagne, and Caulfield Guineas in Australia; Margot Did, who took last season’s Nunthorpe Stakes in England, and Reward for Effort and Excelebration. Exceed and Excel’s other top European performers include G2 winners Masamah, Best Terms, and Infamous Angel.

Excelebration in the pre-parade ring
The success does not stop there. Excelebration comes from a long line of successful sires, and his grandsire is one that Coolmore in particular have had outstanding success with: Danehill. The international Coolmore roster includes 13 Danehill line stallions, including exciting young sires Duke of Marmalade, Dylan Thomas, Holy Roman Emperor, Mastercraftsman, Rock of Gibraltar, and Starspangledbanner, and the well-accomplished Danehill Dancer. The best of them all may in fact be Exceed and Excel’s fellow Australian-bred Fastnet Rock, who has sired nine G1 winners and is on fire at the moment, having already sired five individual G1 winners in Australia this season. Fastnet Rock was the busiest stallion in the world last year, covering 364 mares between Australia and Ireland in his second season shuttling. His first northern hemisphere foals are yearlings this year.

Excelebration in the parade ring
The point is, if Excelebration lives up to sire lofty sire line, Coolmore should easily cash in on their purchase. And he has the race record to suggest he should. Excelebration quickly recorded his first G1 win in September following the Coolmore purchase, taking the Qatar Prix Du Moulin de Longchamp in France. Despite his own top level success, Excelebration may be best known for finishing within four lengths of the mighty Frankel on three occasions last year: in the Greenham Stakes, the St. James’s Palace Stakes, and the QEII Stakes. After yesterday’s rousing victory at the Curragh, where the colt overcome a rain-softened turf course to roll his opponents by an easy 3 ¼ lengths under a Joseph O’Brien handride, many are wondering if Excelebration may be the one to finally get the measure of Frankel this year. According to trainer Aiden O’Brien, Excelebration is likely to contest next month’s Lockinge Stakes in England, which is also the target for Frankel. Regardless of whether they meet in the Lockinge, there will be many chances for the formidable pair to square off during a summer of prestigious middle distance contests in England.
Excelebration and Joseph O'Brien
after the win

Excelebration’s win capped a profitable day for Ballydoyle, which also ran first and third in the listed Loughbrown Stakes with three-year-olds Requisition and Nephrite. The Tipperary-based stable also enjoyed success in a two-year-old fillies maiden with Infanta Branca, who became the first lifetime winner for her first season sire Henrythenavigator, who stands at Coolmore’s American satellite in Kentucky.   

I was out at the Curragh yesterday to see Excelebration and take some photos. While it was a typical rainy Irish day for most of the card, the sun came out for Excelebration. Hope you enjoy!

-- Kelsey Riley is a second year trainee on the Darley Flying Start program. She will join the TDN staff in July.

Excelebration's win in the 2011 Qatar Prix Du 
Moulin De Longchamp
Nephrite and Requisition head off in the rain

Excelebration heads to the gate for the Gladness Stakes

Coolmore's Nephrite in the pre-parade ring before
his third-place effort in the Loughbrown

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