Excelebration

published: 16 Jul 2014 in Stallion profiles

Australian breeders should be eager to support this Irish bred son of champion Aussie sprinter Exceed and Excel and grandson of supersire Danehill (USA) as he showed his class with three Gr.1 wins at a mile in Europe and hails from a fine classic family.

‚ÄčEXCELEBRATION’S Timeform of 133 at three and four speaks volumes for the ability of the triple Gr.1 winner and grandson of our nine times Champion Sire Danehill, the dominant name in current Australian pedigrees. This outstanding miler, with elite level wins at Ascot, Longchamp and Deauville, is about to start his second southern season for Coolmore, Jerrys Plains, after covering 109 mares there in 2013.

A winner of eight of his 15 starts, Excelebration’s record could have been much more impressive but for the unbeaten champion Frankel as he was second to that horse four times, three times in Gr.1 events.

A son of the Champion Australian Sprinter Exceed and Excel and the placed Sun Shower (Indian Ridge), Excelebration, bred by Owenstown Stud in Ireland, rose above his bargain price tag (15,000 euros as a foal and £20,000 as a yearling) to become one of the best of his generation and earn high praise indeed from the compilers of Racehorses of 2012 who called him “a thoroughly genuine racehorse who never ran less than creditably on any of his 15 career starts”.

Put into training with Marco Botti at two, he was fourth on debut over 6f at Nottingham and then won his only other juvenile starts, triumphant in a 6f maiden at Doncaster in June 2010 very impressively, beating runner-up Belgian Bill by 2.5 lengths, and then showing further improvement to collect a minor event at Newmarket (6f) the following month by two lengths from Point du Jour. Both wins came on good to firm going and were enough to earn him a Timeform of 99p (the p signalling “likely to improve”) and the tag “already useful”.

By the end of his three year-old campaign, Excelebration’s annual Timeform was 133 and he had won three of his six starts and been “Frankled” in the others, although his young trainer Marco Botti pointed out, “it must never be regarded as a disgrace to be beaten by Frankel who is perhaps the best horse I will ever see.” Excelebration started the season with a four-length second to Frankel in the Greenham Stakes-Gr.3 (7f) at Newbury, with six lengths to third placed Shropshire. He then started favourite for the German 2000 Guineas-Gr.2 (8f) at Cologne in May, taking the lead two furlongs out and racing away to beat the previous season’s unbeaten Champion German Juvenile Gereon by seven lengths.

He was third (2.25 lengths) to Frankel and Zoffany next time out in the St James’s Palace Stakes-Gr.1 after stumbling at the start and being hampered during running (Dream Ahead and Dubawi Gold were among the unplaced runners).

Given a break until the Hungerford Stakes-Gr.3 (1400m) against older horses in the middle of August, Excelebration could not have been more impressive, clearing out to win by six lengths from Beacon Lodge and Musir and prompting Coolmore to purchase an interest in the colt from his Italian owner Giuliani Manfredini. That faith in the son of Exceed and Excel was repaid at his next start when he landed a first Gr.1 success in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp, beating the 2010 runner-up, six year-old Rio de la Plata, by 1.5 lengths and with Rajasman a half-length back in third and Dubawai Gold fourth. Excelebration had his final start for the season a month later in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (8f) at Royal Ascot and was again second, beaten four lengths, to Frankel and with Immortal Verse third (3.5 lengths) and with Racehorses of 2011 noting he was “the only one to try and go with Frankel”.

During the season Botti noted he had been able to buy Excelebration so cheaply “because he looked quite weak as a yearling, though to me he had the look of a real racehorse in the making”. The Timeform pundits said he was “useful looking and continued to strengthen” at three “and looks the sort to train on again at four”.

Excelebration was switched to Aidan O’Brien at four and had his first start for the new stable in the Gladness Stakes-Gr.3 (7f) at the Curragh in April 2012, running out an easy winner after racing away in the final furlong to score by five lengths from Croisultan. Next start saw a rematch with his old nemesis in the Lockinge Stakes-Gr.1 at Newbury in May and he went down to Frankel by five lengths, although Excelebration was four lengths clear of third placed Dubawi Gold on the line. The Lockinge Stakes-Gr.1 proved another Frankel triumph (11 lengths) and again Excelebration, the only other horse in the field to start at less than 10/1, was second and with Side Glance fourth.

With no Frankel in the line up Excelebration justified his status as favourite to win the Prix Jacques le Marois-Gr.1 (1600m in 1:34.60) at Deauville after always being prominent, he was driven out in the final furlong to beat Cityscape and Elusive Cape by 1.25 lengths and a neck, Moonlight Cloud was a head back in fourth in a race where nine of the 11 runners were Gr.1 winners. Ridden by his trainer’s son Joseph, Excelebration made it back-to-back Gr.1 wins when he next appeared two months later to take the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Royal Ascot, “ridden for speed and showing an impressive turn of foot”, by 3.25 lengths from Cityscape and with Elusive Kate third and Carlton House fourth.

“We’re delighted, his work has been brilliant and he’s getting heavier all the time,” Aidan O’Brien said after the race. “He’s a lot of speed and class and Joseph was very confident.” In a Racing Post article, Joseph O’Brien commented, “He’s a great horse and is improving with racing and age. He’s exceptional and the ground makes no difference to him.” Racing Post went on, “the winner is undoubtedly a top class miler. He finished second to Frankel twice when trained by Marco Botti last season and twice this term for his new handler. If is wasn’t for Frankel this son of Exceed and Excel would now be celebrating his sixth Gr.1.”

Timeform noted, “Excelebration produced the most striking performance of his career . . . one of the best winning displays in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in the last 20 years or so”. Although not at home on the tight Santa Anita course two weeks later, Excelebration bowed out of racing with a fourth behind 1.5 length winner Wise Dan and placegetters Animal Kingdom and Obviously in the Breeders’ Cup Mile-Gr.1. He was the highest rated Irish-trained galloper of the season (ahead of his stable mates So You Think and Camelot).

His sire Exceed and Excel was named Australia’s Champion Sprinter in 2004 and has become a high class sire in both hemispheres with Gr.1 winners Excelebration, Margot Did (Champion GB Three Year-Old Filly, won Nunthorpe Stakes), Outstrip (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) and Amber Sky (Meydan Al Quoz Sprint, SW winner in HK) leading the way in the north and juvenile stars like Guelph (inbred to Danehill 2mx3f), Reward for Effort, Earthquake (dam inbred to Biscay) and Overreach (Golden Slipper) and outstanding two and three year-old Helmet (who shuttles for Darley) heading his southern honours list. Since retiring to stud in Australia in 2004 and the UK in 2005, Exceed and Excel (Danehill (USA)-Patrona (USA) by Lomond) has left 743 winners (68.9% of starters) of more than $72m and his 83 stakes winners (nine Gr.1) represent 7.7% of his starters, the sign of a very good sire indeed. Standing this year at $110,000 at Darley’s Kelvinside property in the Hunter Valley, Exceed and Excel was Champion Australian Sire by Earnings in 2012-13 with earnings topping $11.4m, a season when he was also Champion Sire of Juveniles.

Winner of seven of his 12 starts including the VRC Newmarket Handicap-Gr.1 (1200m) and MRC Invitation Stakes-Gr.1 (1400m in track record time 1:21.20) at three, Exceed and Excel was also precocious enough to win the Todman Slipper Trial-Gr.2 as a juvenile (beating Untouchable and Niello) and has made a name as a very good sire of juveniles, in fact he’s the world’s leading sire of juvenile stakes winners (43). However he is much more than a one-dimensional sire, his winners also include the very good British sprinters Fulbright (nine wins to Gr.2, dam inbred to Forli) and Masamah (nine wins to Gr.2), the tough Australian Group-winning fillies Kulgrinda, Aerobatics and Just Discreet and smart males like Kuroshio (to stud 2014, dam inbred to Secretariat and Raise a Native), Sidestep, Wilander, Exceedingly Good (inbred 3mx4m to Danzig) and Kencella.

The dams of his best winners come from a variety of sire lines (although many of them feature Star Kingdom in their pedigree) and their sires include Elusive Quality, Indian Ridge, Singspiel, Rory’s Jester, Shareef Dancer, Marauding, Snippets (several), Rubiton, El Prado, Fairy King, Distant Relative, Quest For Fame, Gone West, Kris, Sadler’s Wells, Carnegie, Metal Storm, Bellotto, Rahy, In The Wings, Real Quiet, Blazing Sword, Darshaan, Bluebird, Canny Lad, Zeditave, Seeking the Gold and Spectrum.

Because he carries a 4mx4m of Northern Dancer, and as Danehill has an additional line of that horse’s dam Natalma, it follows that many of the Exceed and Excel stock are inbred to Northern Dancer and his dam, but that is common in many pedigrees today and hard to avoid when so many mares have either Danehill or his grandsire Northern Dancer, in their pedigrees.

Not so common in local pedigrees though is Seattle Slew (Bold Reasoning-My Charmer by Poker), whose half-brother Lomond (Northern Dancer), winner of the English 2000 Guineas, is the dam sire of Exceed and Excel. One source of Seattle Slew is via daughters of his grandson Bernardini (A P Indy) and this is perhaps worth trying given that My Charmer, a wonderful broodmare, combines the blood of those ‘Blue Hens’ La Troienne (via grandaughters Striking and Busher, who are also sisters, 3x3) and Myrtlewood (fourth dam, also fourth dam of Mr. Prospector).

My Charmer’s other sire sons such as Argosy (Affirmed), Great Charmer (The Minstrel) and Seattle Dancer (Nijinsky) and her grandson Desert Secret (Sadler’s Wells) are harder to find in pedigrees, but are also worth considering.

Patrona is a half-sister to the Canadian Gr.1 winner Swamp King (USA) (Vice Regent) who shuttled briefly and then stood here (1996-2001) and he is one of three stakes winners produced by Gr.3-winning dam Gladiolus (17 wins), a daughter of Watch Your Step (by champion racehorse but moderate sire Citation). Next dam is the stakes producer Back Britches, a son of another tough US performer in Carry Back.

Excelebration’s dam Sun Shower placed at 11f in France and is by the King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.2 winner Indian Ridge (Ahonoora (GB)-Hillbrow by Swing Easy), a very good sprinter whose wins also included the Duke of York Stakes-Gr.3. The Danehill/Ahonoora cross also worked to advantage to produce the Gr.1 winner and sire Danasinga, and that horse’s dam Princess Tracy (IRE) has proved influential in Australia where her descendants include Horse of the Year Typhoon Tracy. Mares by sires from her family such as Red Element, Shaft, Master of Design and Towkay or from the family of her sister Enigma, dam of good WA sire Bletchley Park (IRE) (Caerleon) and former shuttler Shalford (IRE)), could be worth using with Excelebration.

Sun Shower, who also produced the Gr.3 winner Mull of Killough (Mull of Kintyre), was sold to India for 10,000 euros at Goffs November Sale the year she produced Excelebration, her third foal, and before her sons raced and had the chance to show her value as a broodmare. Her dam, Miss Kemble (Warning-Sarah Siddons by Le Levenstell), met a similar fate, being sold by Juddmonte after failing in her only start.

She eventually found her way to Australia after leaving the winners Kembera and Kingso in France and produced a filly by Break the Vault in 2007, Annulment, a filly by Pure Theatre in 2008 and a colt by Grey Swallow (IRE) in 2012 for Gerrard Thoroughbreds, Victoria. Her dam’s sire Le Levenstell won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Sussex Stakes and is a grandson of Djebel (Tourbillon).

He is the sire of great stayer Le Moss, Arc winner Levmoss and of Gr.1 winner My Swallow (GB) (at stud in Australia). Miss Kemble (GB) is by top class sprinter miler Warning (from the family of Scenic (IRE)) and from the dual classic winner Sarah Siddons, whose victories included the Irish 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 and the Yorkshire Oaks-Gr.1 and who was also runner-up in the Irish Oaks-Gr.1 and Prix Vermeille-Gr.1. Her 10 winners included the Irish Oaks-Gr.1 heroine Princess Patti (Top Ville) and the Gr.2 winner and sire Seymour Hicks (Ballymore). Her descendants also include Gr.2 winner Sea of Heartbreak (Rock of Gibraltar (IRE)), Gr.1 winner Leggera (Sadler’s Wells) and Gr.3 winner Lucido (Royal Academy (USA)).

Next dam Mariel (by English Derby winner Relko from Ela Marita by Red God) won the Pretty Polly Stakes-Gr.2 at the Curragh and was runner-up in the Irish 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 and fourth in the English and Irish Oaks, both Gr.1. She produced just three foals, the classic winner Sarah Siddons, the Listed winner Mary Arden (Mill Reef) and unplaced Never Forget (Exbury), all fillies. Her dam Ela Marita, successful from 1400m-2000m, won the Fred Darling Stakes-Gr.3 at Newbury and produced 10 winners (2SW) and is a half-sister to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes-Gr.1, St Leger-Gr.1 and Irish Derby-Gr.1 winner Ragusa (Ribot), whose 25SW include English Derby winner Morston.

This is family 9a and Excelebration’s seventh dam, US-bred Fantan, is a daughter of Grand Criterium winner Ambiorix (by Tourbillon) and the Ladies Handicap winner Red Eye (Petee-Wrack-Charred Keg by Stimulus) and his next two dams are by Omar Khayyam and Rock Sand and he traces to Bay Flower (Lexington), all legends in the early days of thoroughbred breeding in the US and worthy names to duplicate in pedigrees. Excelebration stands 16 hands and his fee in 2014 is $22,000.

EXCELEBRATION (IRE) 2008 Bay colt
by Exceed and Excel - Sun Shower, by Indian Ridge

  EXCEED AND EXCEL (AUS)
B. 2000
GW 7 wins
f:1286 r:1099 w:759 SW:83
  Danehill
B. 1986
GW 4 wins
f:2410 r:2052 w:1614 SW:347
  Danzig
B. 1977
Wnr 3 wins
f:1075 r:837 w:658 SW:198
1 Northern Dancer   Nearctic   Nearco 4
  Lady Angela 14
  Natalma   Native Dancer 5
  Almahmoud 2
  Pas de Nom   Admiral's Voyage   Crafty Admiral 8
  Olympia Lou 4
  Petitioner   Petition 16
  Steady Aim 7
  Razyana
B. 1981
Pld
f:14 r:11 w:9 SW:5
  His Majesty   Ribot   Tenerani 6
  Romanella 4
  Flower Bowl   Alibhai 6
  Flower Bed 4
1 Spring Adieu   Buckpasser   Tom Fool 3
  Busanda 1
  Natalma   Native Dancer 5
  Almahmoud 2
  Patrona
Ch. 1994
Wnr 1 win
f:5 r:5 w:5 SW:2
  Lomond
B. 1980
GW 3 wins
f:721 r:546 w:296 SW:30
1 Northern Dancer   Nearctic   Nearco 4
  Lady Angela 14
  Natalma   Native Dancer 5
  Almahmoud 2
  My Charmer   Poker   Round Table 2
  Glamour 1
  Fair Charmer   Jet Action 1
  Myrtle Charm 13
  Gladiolus
Ch. 1974
GW 17 wins
f:12 r:10 w:7 SW:3
  Watch Your Step   Citation   Bull Lea 9
  Hydroplane 3
  Stepwisely   Wise Counsellor 4
  Stephanie 6
  Back Britches   Carry Back   Saggy 6
  Joppy 1
  Foxbritches   Beau Gar 2
  Fulgent 23
  SUN SHOWER (IRE)
Br. 2001
Pld
f:5 r:5 w:3 SW:2
  Indian Ridge
Ch. 1985
GW 5 wins
f:918 r:785 w:475 SW:84
  Ahonoora
Ch. 1975
GW 7 wins
f:456 r:305 w:200 SW:42
  Lorenzaccio   Klairon   Clarion 1
  Kalmia 1
  Phoenissa   The Phoenix 16
  Erica Fragrans 5
  Helen Nichols 3 Martial   Hill Gail 11
  Discipliner 2
  Quaker Girl   Whistler 1
  Mayflower 1
  Hillbrow
Ch. 1975
Wnr 2 wins
f:11 r:7 w:4 SW:1
  Swing Easy   Delta Judge   Traffic Judge 3
  Beautillion 10
  Free Flowing   Polynesian 14
  Rytina 4
  Golden City 3 Skymaster   Golden Cloud 22
  Discipliner 2
  West Shaw   Grey Sovereign 6
  Irish Candy 3
  Miss Kemble
B. 1994
NP
f:7 r:7 w:2
  Warning
B. 1985
GW 8 wins
f:650 r:536 w:371 SW:51
  Known Fact   In Reality   Intentionally 5
  My Dear Girl 21
  Tamerett   Tim Tam 23
  Mixed Marriage 2
  Slightly Dangerous   Roberto   Hail To Reason 4
  Bramalea 10
  Where You Lead   Raise A Native 8
  Noblesse 14
  Sarah Siddons
B. 1973
GW 3 wins
f:16 r:13 w:10 SW:3
  Le Levanstell   Le Lavandou   Djebel 5
  Lavande 4
  Stella's Sister   Ballyogan 2
  My Aid 7
  Mariel   Relko   Tanerko 12
  Relance 16
  Ela Marita   Red God 8
  Fantan 9

Northern Dancer (CAN) 1961 : 4m 4m x
Natalma (USA) 1957 : 5m 5f 5m x
Discipliner (GB ) 1948 : x 6m 6m

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