Celebration time for O'Brien
Excelebration makes his eagerly awaited debut for the Aidan O'Brien stable in the Big Bad Bob Gladness Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
The son of Exceed And Excel was a top-notch performer at seven furlongs and a mile last season, winning the German 2000 Guineas, the Hungerford Stakes and the Prix du Moulin. He was also placed behind the mighty Frankel in his other three starts in 2011.
Having been trained by Marco Botti at Newmarket, he was sold to continue his career at Ballydoyle and starts the new campaign in this Group Three contest over seven furlongs.
He faces five rivals, including Beacon Lodge, who has his first run since leaving Clive Cox's Lambourn stable to join the David Nicholls string in North Yorkshire. Beacon Lodge filled second place behind Excelebration in Newbury's Hungerford Stakes last August.
The line-up is completed by O'Brien's second string Windsor Palace, Billyford, Croisultan and Kargali.
On the same card, O'Brien unleashes the highly promising Nephrite, who defends a 100% record in the Anne Brewster Memorial Loughbrown Stakes. The Pivotal colt puts his Classic credentials on the line in this Listed heat over seven furlongs.
He holds entries in both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, as well as the Investec Derby at Epsom, after lowering the colours of the much-vaunted Born To Sea on the second of his starts in the Group Three Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown last year.
O'Brien also saddles Requisition, while the pick of the opposition from other stables could be Jim Bolger's lightly-raced Caonach and Ger Lyons' Bible Black.