Following in your older brothers footsteps is one target that goes on the 'To Do' list when growing up, closely followed by excelling above his achievements, but when he goes by the name of Frankel those tasks become slightly harder to achieve. The public pressure upon Noble Mission to recreate the performances of his brother has been exceptionally heavy since the initial announcement that a full brother to Frankel would be making his way to a racetrack. However, whilst Frankel continues to pulverise his opponents into submission with displays of exceptional speed and ability, his battle hardened brother continues to win the hearts of many with a determined never-say-die attitude and is quietly continuing an ascendency towards a crack at Classic glory.
Declared as a slightly backward horse as a two year old, Noble Mission was seen just once in his inaugural racing year towards the tail end of the British flat season when finishing a game second behind the impressive Godolphin winner, Swedish Sailor, but his return to the racetrack as a three year old could not have gone any better. Racing with headgear for the first time, Noble Mission tracked the leaders in a Newbury maiden before kicking on three furlongs from home to achieve a dominant, untroubled three length success.
Unlike that Newbury performance, Noble Mission has taken on a whole new way of racing since breaking his maiden. The tracking of the leaders from mid-pack is still there yet in tougher company the son of Galileo digs deep with a never-say-die attitude to challenge with an unfathomable late rally in the shadows of the post despite seemingly looking under pressure from a significantly far out. At Newmarket's Guineas meeting that never-say-die attitude saw Noble Mission keep his head down to grind out a popular success in Listed company but subsequent runs in a Newmarket Listed contest - in which he gave five pounds to all his rivals - and the Group 2 King George VII Stakes at Royal Ascot have proved so close yet so far for Frankel's brother.
Hitting the front a furlong out, Noble Mission seemed to have one hand on a popular Royal Ascot victory three days after his brother's eleven length victory in the festival's opening race, only to be cut down late on by his improving stable mate, Thomas Chippendale, for a heartbreaking half-length defeat. This was the first time Noble Mission had surged to the lead with a furlong remaining and, in doing so, gained redemption over the John Gosden trained Thought Worthy - who finished third in this Royal Ascot race - for a quarter-length defeat in the Fairway Stakes at Newmarket four weeks prior to Royal Ascot. At Newmarket, Noble Mission gave five pounds to all four of his rivals and looked under pressure from a long way out before kicking in with two furlongs to go to challenge in the shadows of the post in what is fast becoming his trademark style. However, on that day the five pounds was enough to prevent him from passing rival Rugged Cross before the surge of Gosden's Thought Worthy had breezed past them both.
The Glorious Goodwood meeting of 2012 may be overshadowed by the enormous spectacle that is London's long awaited Olympic Games but with no fewer than 13 Group races over the five day extravaganza it's certainly not one to be missed. Noble Mission's next assignment, the Group 3 Gordon Stakes, is traditionally a strong St Leger trial and sees a rematch between he and another of John Gosden's extensive army, Michaelangelo. An unraced outsider of five last time they met, Michaelangelo has progressed significantly since the three-quarter length defeat at the hands of Cecil's charge and remains unbeaten since that very meeting. With victory in the Goodwood Cocket Hat Stakes and the money-laden Tattersalls Millions Cup now under his belt, Michaelangelo is heavily fancied in some quarters for the St Leger itself but initially looks to gain his own piece of redemption against Noble Mission and is heavily favoured for victory over his old rival. Peter Schiergen is also back in England in a bid for more Group race glory for the German Derby third-placed Girolamo. That form has been boosted with the destructive eight length victory of the German Derby winner, Pastorious, over the weekend in the Group 1 Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at Munich and a quarter-length defeat at the hands of that rival in the German Derby does look like very decent form; Andrasch Starke also returns to take the ride. Fairway Stakes fourth, Farhaan, Ed de Gas, Minimise Risk and Godolphin's Encke complete the line up.
In a year where Frankel and Nathaniel may finally meet again after two years of an anticipated rematch it may be their siblings who meet first. With Great Heavens, Nathaniel's sister, firmly on track for the St Leger, a progressive performance by Noble Mission in the Gordon Stakes on Tuesday could just see him head the same way. Noble Mission may not be as visually impressive as his brother and he may never win a race in as impressive style as his sibling, but his determination is there for all to see, as is his sheer will to win. Should he gain that Group 1 victory at any point before the end of the season it may not be only Warren Place that sheds a victorious tear for Frankel's little 'bro'.
Photos Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)