10/18/2014 10:47AM

Noble Mission by a neck in QIPCO Champion Stakes


Noble Mission ensured that Ascot's flat-season finale had a truly emotional finish as he beat Al Kazeem by a neck in a thrilling edition of the QIPCO Champion Stakes on Saturday.

Two years earlier, equine great Frankel had finished his unbeaten career in the very same race as his full brother, and his tremendously popular trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, was to die the following summer. His widow, Lady Jane, was left to take over the historic Cecil stable in Newmarket, and she was struggling to compose herself afterward.

More positive tactics have been the making of Noble Mission, a hood-wearing 5-year-old who was labeled a bit of an underachiever before managing a Group 1 breakthrough in Ireland in May.

On his preferred soft ground, he was sent to the front once again by jockey James Doyle and never left that position, as Al Kazeem watched his every move. The runner-up has a story of his own, having proved sub-fertile at stud and returned to the care of trainer Roger Charlton.

The pair battled together through the final quarter-mile, but Noble Mission simply could not be dislodged from his position.

"I just don't believe it - I think I'm going to wake up tomorrow and find I've dreamed it," said Lady Cecil. "It was a great race, and he just toughed it out. It's a fairy tale."

Given his pedigree, Noble Mission is a valuable stallion proposition, but Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Prince Khalid Abdullah, said a decision on whether he races on would be up to the owner.

Past Champion Stakes winner and 7-4 favorite Cirrus Des Aigles was a little disappointing in fifth.