Marco Botti would not be afraid to take on Frankel again after his stable star Excelebration trounced his rivals in the CGA Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.
Sir Henry Cecil’s champion has twice beaten Excelebration, but the improvement in the latter was clearly noticeable as he defeated his elders with aplomb in this Group Two event.
A Group One race now beckons, with the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp on September 11 or the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on October 15 the two obvious options, and he could quite possibly take in both.
It is in the latter he would be likely to meet Frankel again, and on this evidence Excelebration would be no pushover.
Settled just off the pace set by stablemate Ceremonial Jade, Adam Kirby asked the 5-4 favourite to quicken a furlong out, after which he rapidly bounded away for a six-length demolition of Beacon Lodge.
“He’s already proved that’s he a good horse. He’s run twice against Frankel, and today he was very impressive,” said Botti.
“We left a little bit to work on, so I expect him to come on a lot for the run.
“There is a big gap between now and Ascot (QEII) so he might go to France, but it all depends how he comes out of this. It could be the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp next month and maybe the QEII. We’ll see how he goes from now on.
“Adam said when he asked him to quicken his response was immediate.
“It’s probably unlucky for him to be in the same year as Frankel. Without him we would probably have won a Group One.
“I’ve never had any doubt he’s a Group One horse. Every time he’s taken Frankel on he’s been beaten, but we all know he’s the best three-year-old around.
“We thought in the Greenham if we finished close to Frankel we’d have a Group One horse and that is how it has turned out.
“Frankel is not just a normal good horse, he is something else. To think we can beat him at this stage is probably a bit unrealistic but who knows, a race is a race.
“We have to go for a Group One race next. There are few races left so we might have to go to Ascot.
“I’m happy to go back to a mile with him, I think that is his best trip.”
Census (4-1) booked his ticket for the Ladbrokes St Leger when reversing Royal Ascot running with Brown Panther in the CGA Geoffrey Freer Stakes.
Richard Hughes was always travelling strongly on the Richard Hannon-trained three-year-old, who was six lengths behind Brown Panther in the King George V Stakes, but was meeting his conqueror on 3lb better terms.
Hughes eased him to the front three furlongs out, as Brown Panther was driven from the rear to gradually take closer order, and Census stuck on well to win cosily by a length and a quarter.
“The Leger is the plan. I thought about going to York (for the Great Voltigeur), but I didn’t want the travelling for him,” said Hannon.
“He’d have needed a gallop, probably here, so I thought why not run him and earn a few quid.”
Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “He was too far back at Ascot and we were giving Brown Panther 3lb.
“He was babyish there and now he’s grown up. We’re really excited. The Leger here we come.”
Connections of the runner-up, owned and bred by soccer star Michael Owen, were far from downhearted
“I think the Leger is in four weeks’ time and we’ll take him on again,” said trainer Tom Dascombe, whose charge raced freely in front when last seen finishing a creditable fifth in the German Derby.
“We’ve gone back to basics to try to get him to settle and relax. Obviously we’d have rather won, but we haven’t and there will be a certain amount of improvement in the next few weeks.
“He may well have needed that and we’re very happy.”
Stan James.com make Census a 6-1 chance from 10s for the final Classic of the season at Doncaster on September 10. The same firm also cut Brown Panther to 8s from 10s.
Hannon completed a double when Dreamwriter (14-1), rejected by stable jockey Hughes, bolted up by six lengths on her debut under Jimmy Fortune in the Bathwick Tyres EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes Division One.
Hannon said: “She slipped under the radar a bit. She fly jumps a bit when she canters at home, but she’s put a lot of ground between them in the last furlong.”
In division two, Gray Pearl (2-1 favourite) gave trainer Barry Hills his last winner at his local track before he hands over the reins to his son, Charlie.
“That was very nice. Dad’s not here, he’s gone grouse shooting,” said Hills junior.
“She’s having a nice blow so she’ll improve on that.”
Fencing (5-4 favourite) staked an early claim for Classic honours with an emphatic victory in the Denford Stud Stakes, better known as the Washington Singer.
“He’s very progressive. We’ll probably stay at seven. He’s a horse on an upward curve and we’ve always liked him,” said trainer John Gosden.
“At three I’d say a mile and a quarter would be his trip, but time will tell. His dam (Latice) won the Prix de Diane.”
Stan James.com and Victor Chandler gave Fencing quotes of 16-1 and 14-1 respectively for the 2000 Guineas, while Betfred make him 16-1 for the Derby and Paddy Power 25s.
Directorship (9-1) continued the good run of trainer Pat Chamings by winning the CGA Ladies Day Handicap dropped to seven furlongs for the first time.