New Zealand Horse Racing - Par Xcellence
 By Valkyrie   •   30th Sep 2010   •   6,311 views   •   0 comments
The announcer's voice boomed from the speakers over the course as the nine-strong field of the 2007 Sir James Fletcher Stakes thundered down the Ellerslie straight. As he spat out the names of the frontrunners, a large bay at the back of the pack caught his eye.

"Coleman's winding up Xcellent down the outside! The leader is Sir Slick, and here comes Xcellent after them very quickly! Sir Slick in front. What a wonderful return to racing!" He stumbles over the words, too excited about the gelding barrelling his way from last to first to bother untangling them. "Xcellent! Ex-ce-llent INDEED!"

New Zealand Horse Racing

They hit the line, Michael Coleman and Xcellent in front by two lengths. It was the Pentire ex Excelo gelding's first start after breaking down 18-months previously, just a short time after running third in the 2005 Melbourne Cup behind the legendary English-bred mare Makybe Diva.

Foaled in 2001, Xcellent had a stellar campaign, winning six of his first nine starts. He liked running in the back of the field, waiting until they rounded into the straight before peeling off and letting loose with a devastating burst of speed. Piloted by Michael Coleman, he won four of New Zealand's best Group One races The New Zealand Derby, New Zealand Stakes, Mudgway Stakes and Kelt Capital Stakes.

Then, in early 2006, he broke down. It seemed like the end for the explosive gelding, who had captured the hearts and minds of racing folk in both New Zealand and Australia in just two short years. If he was in any other country he may have well been retired, or shipped off for pet food, or sold to nobody-knows-who. But New Zealand Thoroughbreds are reknowned for their toughness, durability and versatility. Just eighteen months later he was back, albeit not in winning form when he ran a bad race on a wet track under heavy weight in the 2007 Stradbroke Handicap.

Freshened up in December of 2007 he trounced the tough customer Sir Slick in the Sir James Fletcher Stakes, but later suffered his only defeat on New Zealand soil in the Boxing Day Group One Zabeel Classic later that month to the very horse he had so easily beaten not so long before. In January of 2008 he won the Group Three Trentham Stakes but was pulled up after the race and led back to the birdcage riderless.

His retirement was announced the following day.

Xcellent was a brilliant example of New Zealand racing. In the 2005/2006 World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings he was 18th. He was NZ Horse of the Year for the 2004/2005 season, and the 2005/2006 one. In thirteen starts he won eight races and finished third once, for a combined total earnings of nearly NZ$1.5 million.
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