Excelebration has Frankel in his sights


RACING:AIDAN O’BRIEN’S worldwide reputation as a magician with horses will expand even further if he can get Excelebration to inflict a first ever defeat on Frankel in today’s Group One JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The world’s top-rated racehorse makes the eagerly-awaited first start of a four-year-old career that some pundits reckon could eventually make him Europe’s top-rated horse ever in the mile event.

And on the face of it there appears nothing to stop him making it 10 out of 10 in what is an already remarkable career.

Bookmakers reckon Excelebration is the only one capable of giving Frankel any sort of race and last year’s Prix Du Moulin winner has already had three attempts at the champion without once looking like beating the odds.

The difference this time, though, is that Excelebration is now with O’Brien and there was a lot to like about the way he won his first start for Ireland’s champion trainer in last month’s Gladness Stakes at the Curragh.

The opposition was neglible but the style was impressive. Today will establish if there is a new substance there too.

Excelebration will have the benefit of a pacemaker in Windsor Palace who upset St Nicholas Abbey in the Mooresbridge Stakes last time and Joseph O’Brien was eagerly anticipating the race yesterday.

“It will be the first time I’ve ridden against Frankel and he is obviously a great horse, so I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

“Excelebration won very well at the Curragh and you’d like to think he’ll for improve for that.”

On 2011 form huge improvement will be needed to reverse placings, especially since Frankel’s connections believe their superstar performer could be even better at four.

But after a slight injury scare some weeks ago, there was a welcome upbeat report from trainer Henry Cecil yesterday.

“Some of the opposition have had a race, which is a great advantage, but I feel he has done enough to give a good account of himself,” he said.

“One thing I am pretty sure about is that he will come on for the race and will be a stronger and more settled horse this year.”

Today’s home action is at Wexford where a Coolmore runner of a very different calibre to Excelebration could, nevertheless, prove a winner.

Time Of My Life, a son of Galileo, carries the Magnier colours in the €7,000 handicap, Black Point Handicap, and not surprisingly off an official mark of 47 is bottom of the weights.

The Coolmore team are usually not in the habit of persevering with no-hopers and a first start in a handicap over a distance more than twice what he ran over in his last juvenile start makes Time Of My Life one to examine.

His jockey, Wayne Lordan, is on the newcomer Honky Tonk Queen in the opener and should know where he stands with the once-raced Miss Forde who was well behind another David Wachman runner, Duntle, on her debut at Dundalk.