A year on from #ChampionsDay: Noble Mission and the American dream
8 Oct 2015
A year on from his victory in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, we see what Frankel's brother Noble Mission is up to in his new career at stud in America.
Being a brother to one of the greatest that your sport has ever seen must make it incredibly difficult for you to stand out distinctly for your own achievements.
Imagine how it must have felt for Jack Charlton, Jamie Murray and Ralf Schumacher – whose siblings Sir Bobby Charlton, Andy Murray and Michael Schumacher all reached the pinnacle of their respective sports and earned sporting immortality while their brothers looked on.
Frankel, internationally recognised as the world’s greatest racehorse of all time, completed his illustrious 14-win unbeaten career on Champions Day in the 2012 QIPCO Champion Stakes.
As the Flat racing legend was creating his legacy, his younger full brother was getting by as an above-average performer without making a serious impression.
But despite a disappointing start to his racing life, he would eventually find his feet.
It took time to get to the bottom of the enigma that was Noble Mission.
Front-running tactics and the guidance of jockey James Doyle ensured that the strapping bay horse could exude his raw natural ability at the highest grade.
Victories in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park and the Huxley Stakes at Chester were then followed by a first Group 1 triumph over highly-rated opposition in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland.
Cue wild celebrations in Newmarket. The famous flag flew again from Warren Place.
More top level success ensued – this time in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, before finishing a narrow second in Germany while conceding a hefty amount of weight to top rival, Lucky Lion.
The defeat, though, would set him up for a thrilling showdown on Champions Day.
His previous Group 1 success made him a credible contender for the Ascot contest. So much so that he became a main feature for the event – starring on the BBC’s prime time news bulletins and even being recreated in the form of LEGO for a promotional video.
The build-up was justified, though. Champions Day would define his career.
Battling courageously against QIPCO British Champions Series Goliath Al Kazeem, Noble Mission responded doggedly to the baying crowd’s urgings to repel the Roger Charlton-trained star at Ascot.
As magical a fairytale ending it was to emulate Frankel with QIPCO Champion Stakes glory – the then five-year-old could now step out of the shadow of his brother.
He earned his place in racing’s history books for his own achievements.
Naturally, the success of 2014 meant that Noble Mission became an appealing stallion proposition.
His owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah, the owner of Juddmonte Farms, had agreed at the start of the year to send him stateside to Lane’s End Stud in Kentucky – a promise he kept after a surprisingly sublime campaign.
It is where Noble Mission resides today.
With a season under his belt in his new career at stud, the Champions Day star is in good spirits and excelling at his new job in the American sunshine.
Well, what else did we expect?
“He’s doing great,” said Bill Farish, owner of Lane’s End Stud. “He’s settled in very well. Many first year stallions take some time to adjust but this horse has a great mind and has transitioned better than most.
“We were in contact with Juddmonte early on (in 2014), so we had been working towards him coming here for some time. To be honest, after such a great performance in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, we were worried our chances were compromised.
“So when the Prince (Khalid Abdullah) agreed to partner the horse with us and our shareholders, we were thrilled! He’s the type of horse Lane’s End and Juddmonte have built their operations around. A classic, mile and a quarter, well-bred top class racehorse.”
The importance of Noble Mission’s venture in America has more significance for the sport than you might think.
The desire for Frankel’s bloodline across the world is insatiable.
Success breeds success, as they say.
To breeders in the United States, Noble Mission’s success as a racehorse, in particular on Champions Day, coupled with his supremely-bred DNA, make him a hugely attractive stallion for those unable to send their broodmares to Britain.
Lane’s End Stud has been overwhelmed with the support for the former Warren Place inmate.
“We were very pleased with the reception from American breeders last year,” Farish continued. “He bred a full book of quality mares.
“As far as his new career, he’s been a very straightforward stallion. He’s doing everything right.
“We’ve been very lucky to have stallions from great families that have been successful in the past.
“His dam – Kind – is a brilliant mare. She’s very well bred and very capable of being another Urban Sea (dam of super stars Galileo and Sea The Stars) or the like.
“He’s a huge coup for American breeders.”
Despite climbing the ladder to stardom on the racetrack in Britain, Noble Mission now has to start again and prove his worth in a new sphere.
Like his big brother Frankel, he starts afresh – but optimism is very high that he will be a success across the Atlantic Ocean.
When asked if Farish believed the Champions Day hero had an exciting future ahead in the stallion barn, he remarked with just three words, “Very much so!”
Confidence oozes from those that work with him across the pond.
They strongly believe that he has the characteristics and profile to become a pin-up boy for the American bloodstock market.
Though, ultimately, his success will be measured by his progeny – who will race for the first time in 2018.
We await with anticipation to see if any of his sons or daughters will head back to Britain to continue the family’s tradition of being crowned a champion on Champions Day.
To book your place at QIPCO British Champions Day 2015, head to the ticketing website.