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Excelebration claimed the Group One which he had been threatening to for some time by driving through the mud in the Qatar Prix du Moulin at Longchamp.

It was the first of what will surely be many top-flight European successes for the young Italian trainer Marco Botti, who set up his burgeoning stable in Newmarket a few years ago.

Frankel has been the obstacle in Excelebration’s path to serial glory, finishing second to Sir Henry Cecil’s brute in the Greenham Stakes and third in the St James’s Palace, with Botti wisely opting for other challenges in the interim, bagging the German 2000 Guineas and Hungerford Stakes.

But the pair could meet yet again if connections agree to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot in October.

Coolmore recently purchased part of the colt with Jamie Spencer taking charge of Excelebration in Paris instead of Adam Kirby, and he stuck close to Godolphin’s Rio De La Plata before launching his assault mid-way down the long home straight.

As much as Rio De La Plata tried to shrug off the inconvenience of the rain-softened surface, he finished a length and a half adrift.

“This horse and Gitano Hernando, who won my first Grade One in America, have been very special,” said Botti.

“I’m very pleased – it was a big concern when the ground went soft, but he has got away with it and has done it well.”

The new Irish connections will have a major say in Excelebration’s next target, with Botti continuing: “He has two options really – the Breeders’ Cup Mile or to go to Ascot. That’s up to the owners.

“Frankel has beaten us twice, although maybe things didn’t pan out for us at Royal Ascot. But wherever he goes he will have to face good horses.

“If he goes to Ascot, it will be Frankel, and if it is America, then Goldikova. But he has got to step up to the next level now.”

Rio De La Plata enjoyed a resurgence in his fortunes when sent abroad late last year and continues to knock on the door.

“We were very happy with the ground at lunchtime but then it rained,” rued trainer Saeed Bin Suroor.

“I think if it was better ground he would have been closer. We’ll find another race for him now.”


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