09/26/2001 11:00PM

Noverre faces a stiff test


Noverre, earmarked to represent Godolphin in the Breeders' Cup Mile, will have to be at his best to confirm his 9-4 favoritism in the $477,000 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Eleven have been entered in this Group 1 mile race, run over a stiffly uphill course with a single right-hand 90-degree turn. While Noverre, the Sussex Stakes winner, is the lukewarm choice, there are at least four who will test him to the fullest.

Proudwings is the one most capable of getting the job done. A 5-year-old German-bred mare, Proudwings crossed the line first in the Prix Jacques le Marois last month with Noverre 1 1/4 lengths behind in fourth. However, Proudwings was disqualified and placed last.

For this race, Proudwings switches riders from Christophe Soumillon back to Yutaka Take, who rode her to victory in the Prix du Muguet and the Falmouth Stakes earlier this year. Proudwings is trained by Ralf Suerland.

Aidan O'Brien saddles Group 3 mile winner Hawkeye in the Queen Elizabeth, but recent Group 2 Celebration Mile winner No Excuse Needed poses a greater danger. Trained by Michael Stoute, No Excuse Needed has been improving steadily throughout the summer.

Vahorimix, who was placed first over Noverre in the French 2,000 Guineas and into the top spot over Proudwings in the Jacques le Marois, ran out of luck last time when he finished sixth in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, in which Hawkeye was third. If he runs back to his sharp fourth over the course and distance in the St. James's Palace Stakes in June, Vahorimix, trained by

Andre Fabre, might earn himself a ticket to the Breeders' Cup.

Also on the Ascot card is the Group 1 Fillies Mile for juvenile fillies. Half Glance, a Danehill half-sister to 1,000 Guineas winner Wince, can give Henry Cecil a much-needed victory here. An easy 3 1/2-length winner of a seven-furlong Newmarket maiden race first time out, Half Glance is the narrow choice over Gossamer, who won the Group 3 Prestige Stakes and is a full sister to Barathea.

Maiden winner Esloob, a daughter of Yorkshire Oaks winner Roseate Tern and a half-sister to 1990 Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Ibn Bey, should stay the distance.