Excelebration has won his other three races this year - the Mehl Mulhens-Rennen (the German 2,000 Guineas - Cologne - Group Two - May 22 - a mile), the CGA Hungerford Stakes (Newbury - Group Two - August 13 - seven furlongs) and the Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Group One - September 11 - a mile)
Marco Botti said: “I have to say we are very pleased with the horse - he looks in good order since he came back from France. He had his final piece of work on Saturday and everything went well. He looks healthy and is ready to run
“We are hoping to close the gap with Frankel - whether we will be good enough to beat him, who knows. I am aware it is a difficult task, but that’s racing. In another era without Frankel, we could have been the best miler in Europe. It is still nice to have the chance to take on the best horse in the world. For a young trainer, it is very important to have a good horse that can be part of a big meeting.
“I have heard good things about Frankel. He has had a break since Goodwood and is going to be difficult to beat. If Sir Henry Cecil says Frankel is the best horse he has had, then it’s scary! I can’t see any weaknesses in Frankel and it will be no disgrace to finish second to him again.
“It was a good run in the Greenham Stakes, considering our horse was lacking experience and having his first run of the year. We knew Frankel would beat us, but we just wanted to test our horse.
“The St James’s Palace was a little bit of a rough race and he was beaten two lengths. Our horse has improved a lot since Ascot - he is physically stronger and has grown a bit too.
“I wouldn’t say he was unlucky at Royal Ascot but the race just didn’t pan out for him. He lost ground leaving the stalls and got hampered. He had to chase Frankel and had no chance to find his stride. That was the only time he has every hung. I don’t think we would have won, but I think we could have finished closer to Frankel.
“This will be the third time we meet Frankel - hopefully it will be third time lucky!
“He is very correct and a tough and courageous horse - he always gives his best. He has a great attitude and he is so switched off in his work. Also on the day of the race, he is relaxed - he just walks around the paddock so that is good.
“When he won the German Guineas in Cologne, the ground went a bit soft and it was heavy last time out which was too soft. Jamie Spencer came back and said he got away with it but hopefully we won’t find that ground at Ascot.
“Frankel will have a pacemaker and so there should be a good, even pace which should suit everyone. The straight course should also help Excelebration and l am happy with the weather forecast as he wants good ground.
“He did not cost a lot at the sales - we were lucky to get him. He is a lovely horse and now we need a bit of luck on Saturday.
“It is great to have a horse like Excelebration to run against Frankel and hopefully we’ll run a good race. It is exciting and I am really looking forward to the race. Every trainer hopes for good horses that can go for good races. It is very exciting for the yard.
“We haven’t decided what we will do after Ascot. He could maybe go to Hong Kong but the Breeders’ Cup looks very unlikely as it would come too soon.
“I need to talk to the owners about whether he stays in training next year. I would love to have him back next year as he improved physically throughout the season and in my opinion should make up into a better four-year-old.”
GOING NEWS AT ASCOT
The going at Ascot this morning (Monday 10th October) changed to
Good to Firm, Good in places
The GoingStick Readings at 9.30am
An odd light shower is possible today and tomorrow, with blustery winds until Wednesday - the weather is forecast to be mainly dry during the week.
Four millimetres are being applied to the straight by boom currently and four millimetres will be put on the round course tonight.
Chris Stickels, Clerk of the Course at Ascot, said at noon: “The strong breeze has dried up the course in the last 24 hours and this has prompted today’s watering.
“I don’t want to be putting on a lot of water on the course at this time of year but we will monitor the situation through the week as the forecast is for mainly dry weather.
“I am looking to offer ground which is a combination of good and good to firm on Saturday.”
EXCELEBRATION (IRE) FACTFILE
3 b c Exceed And Excel (AUS) - Sun Shower (IRE) (Indian Ridge)
Form: 411-21311 Owner: Manfredini, Tabor, Smith & Magnier
Trainer: Marco Botti Breeder: Owenstown Stud Jockey: Jamie Spencer
Excelebration has lived up to his name and that of his sire, Exceed And Excel, with some brilliant performances on the track that make him one of the bargain buys of the century. Bred by Owenstown Stud, the colt was offered for sale at Goffs in November, 2008 and was knocked down to John Walsh Bloodstock for only 15,000 euros. Put through the sales ring once again at the Doncaster St Leger Yearling Sale in August, 2009, trainer Marco Botti secured Excelebration for a relatively modest £20,000. The colt made his debut for Botti and owner Giuliano Manfredini in May, 2010, finishing fourth in a Nottingham six-furlong maiden. He won his remaining two starts as a juvenile, seeing off the smart Belgian Bill at Doncaster in June and then easily landing a conditions race over the same trip at Newmarket in July. Excelebration did not reappear until his three-year-old bow in April, 2011, when he was set a seemingly impossible task against the mighty Frankel in the Group Three totesport.com Greenham Stakes at Newbury. Botti’s charge ran with credit, finishing four lengths second to the subsequent QIPCO 2,000 Guineas hero. The fast improving colt was sent to Cologne for his next outing on May 22, when he toyed with his rivals in soft going to land the Group Two German 2,000 Guineas over a mile by a comfortable seven lengths under Adam Kirby. Next up was Royal Ascot and a rematch with Frankel in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes. Excelebration was once again vanquished but reduced the margin of defeat to two and a quarter lengths as he finished third in the mile showpiece. Excelebration enjoyed a high summer rest before returning with a smooth six-length victory in the Group Two Hungerford Stakes on August 13. Excelebration’s impressive performance in that Newbury seven-furlong contest prompted Coolmore’s Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Sue Magnier to purchase a controlling interest in the colt, at a cost thought to be in excess of £1.5 million. The deal allows Excelebration to race in Manfredini’s colours until the end of 2011, at which point a decision will be made as to whether he races on at four or retires to stud. Excelebration rewarded that investment at Longchamp on September 11 with a first Group One victory in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp over a mile on heavy going under Jamie Spencer. It was announced in early October that Coolmore had purchased the colt’s dam, Sun Shower, from Hazara Stud in India. Sun Shower is out of Miss Kemble, a half-sister to Group One Irish Oaks winner Princess Pati.
Race Record: Starts: 8; Wins: 5; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £402,197
Hailing from one of Italy’s most successful racing families, Marco Botti was born on December 23, 1976. Alduino Botti, Marco’s father, formed a formidable partnership with his cousin, Giuseppe Botti, with the pair being crowned champion trainer in Italy on numerous occasions. As well as riding 48 winners as an amateur in his homeland, Botti worked as assistant trainer to his father and gained further experience under Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor, fellow Newmarket trainers Ed Dunlop and Luca Cumani, and Bill Mott in the USA. In 2006 he took out a licence to train from Green Ridge Stables in Newmarket and notched his first winner when the Giuliano Manfredini-owned Ceremonial Jade won a Beverley maiden on June 27 of that year. His first season also produced an initial Pattern race winner as the filly Sesmen won the Group Three Prestige Stakes at Goodwood, while in 2007, his stable star was another juvenile filly, the Group Three Oh So Sharp Stakes heroine Raymi Coya, who was owned by Peruvian football star Claudio Pizarro. In 2009, Botti enjoyed a first top level success when Gitano Hernando annexed the Grade One Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita, California. This year has seen Botti add a first European Group One and an initial European Classic to his CV thanks to Excelebration, whose tally in 2011 includes the Group One Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, Group Two German 2,000 Guineas and Group Two CGA Hungerford Stakes. Also this year, Fanunalter took the Group Three Investec Diomed Stakes at Epsom on Derby day. Botti’s best season numerically came in 2008 when he saddled 45 winners. He is married to Lucia, a former jockey, and the couple has two children.
No previous runners in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by QIPCO