A LITTLE DETAIL BEHIND NOBLE MISSIONS CHAMPION STAKES GLORY
This time last year we were building towards the Champion Stakes with the mighty Noble Mission. Up to this point Noble Mission had given us all a roller coaster of a ride, that none of us at Warren Place will ever forget. He had won four races, including Group 1’s in Ireland and France, improving from a mark of 102 to 117, in doing so proving a real advocate for Jane and her decision to carry on training.
Two weeks prior to the Champion Stakes, we had taken Noble to Kempton just to settle him mentally as much as anything. He with his lead horse worked a complete lap of the course, Noble took it up half a mile out and hit the line as his lead horse got just inside the two pole, it was a truly remarkable piece of work.
After being caught so cruelly on the line in the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud, James Doyle believed that Noble with his hood on, which have rubber lining to the ears, had not heard SpiritJim coming in time to respond. James raised the idea of removing the hood altogether. We could not risk this with the fanfare of Ascot, but what we did do was swap the hood for a thin Japanese model which did not contain the rubber lining around the ear piece. This way Noble would have the security of a hood but he would also be more responsive to the noises around him. I genuinely believe this tiny detail could have made the difference.
The rain battered Ascot for much of the week leading up to the race. Heavy ground. Ideal.
The plan, as it had been all season was to make the running. However, it was decided that he should sit right on the lead, rather than try and open up a margin between him and his rivals. To expend any excess energy in the middle part of the race, as he had done so when winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland would be to his detriment when facing a higher quality field. He popped out onto the lead and was in a tremendous rhythm the whole way. The rest will go down in racing history, as one of the most exciting races in the last decade and also one of the most emotionally charged stories.
Everybody here at Warren Place owes a lot to Noble and his success, he took us on an amazing journey from start to finish. I would personally like to thank Jane and her team, along with Lord Grimthorpe and Prince Khalid Abdullah for what was by far the greatest thrill of my life.
Alongside my new team, I look forward to the future. We will be hunting unconditionally for the next Noble Mission. I would say he is a horse of a lifetime, however I came into racing to train horses like him and I hope it is not to long before I take care of one in my own name, so once again we can return to Ascot full of hope and excitement.