07/06/2004 12:00AM

Exceed and Excel in U.K. debut

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Exceed and Excel, Sheikh Mohammed's $14 million Australian purchase, makes his much-anticipated European debut in a highly competitive $455,000 Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket on Thursday.

A 4-year-old son of Danehill, Exceed and Excel has won six group race sprints in his native Australia, most recently the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap at the July Cup distance of six furlongs. But that was on March 6, and Exceed and Excel is returning after having missed a scheduled date at Royal Ascot last month.

Still trained by Australian Tim Martin, he looks vulnerable even with fellow Aussie Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle. Looming large is the sharp Hong Kong interloper, Cape of Good Hope, who was narrowly beaten in both the King's Stand Stakes and the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Ascot. From France there is the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest winner, Porlezza, while Aidan O'Brien sends his hard-to-handle but talented Antonius Pius from Ireland.