Frankel’s brother proved the perfect warm-up act for the main man as he showed his sibling the way to the winner’s enclosure on an absorbing opening day of Glorious Goodwood.
Noble Mission is a full-brother to stable companion Frankel and was 11-4 to get back to winning ways in the Group 3 bet365.com Gordon Stakes following a couple of narrow defeats.
Tom Queally rode a confident race and was still last rounding the turn for home, but the hooded Noble Mission picked up well when asked to challenge the unexposed Encke for the lead.
Noble Mission got the better of a thrilling duel by a nose. The favourite Michelangelo, a winner at Goodwood earlier in the season under William Buick, was beaten into third.
It gives Sir Henry Cecil’s team the chance of a nice feature race one-two on the opening two days of the festival, provided Frankel does the business on Wednesday in the Qipco Sussex Stakes.
Queally, who will also ride Frankel, said of Noble Mission’s win: “You never really know (in a photo), but my head was down at the right stage. He dug deep when it mattered.
“He’s a nice horse, he’s improving and he’s going places. He takes you there too easily, I’d planned to take my time a little bit but when you get him alight there’s no taking him back. Thankfully he rose to it.”
William Hill made Noble Mission 12-1 from 16s for the Ladbrokes St Leger, with Paddy Power 10-1 from 25s.
The final Classic of the season at Doncaster is the likely target for the winner, according to Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
Prince Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Lord Teddy Grimthorpe said: “I think Henry would want to take him to the Great Voltigeur at York just to test those (Leger) credentials but in principle I think that would be the idea, yes.
“I think he looked more the finished article, and he’s certainly matured - not only mentally but physically as well.
“He looked much more professional and the great thing is he stuck his head down and battled well when he needed to.”
The day’s other Group 3, the bet365.com Molecomb Stakes also went to a photo finish, which was shaded by Martin Harley aboard the Mick Channon-trained Bungle Inthejungle (14/1) - with 2/1 favourite Morawij the unlucky runner-up.
Bungle Inthejungle responded well to the urgings of jockey Martin Harley against the rail to win the argument by a head.
Morawij was three and three-quarter lengths clear of the third home, Hototo.
Winning rider Harley said: “You can’t really go fast enough for this lad, he sees out the five really well.
“He’s a big horse and has plenty of speed. I didn’t think I was going to peg him back until the last half-furlong, but he’s tough, that’s what you need in a horse - the heart in the right place.”
Channon added: “He’s got blinding speed. I’m just relying on the jockeys to do the right thing and Martin played a blinder.”
Earlier Mark Johnston took the festival’s opening race as Landaman ran out a strong winner of the bet365.com Stakes.
Johnston has a superb record at Glorious down the years and scored again with this impressive four-year-old, who started at 12/1 despite recent back-to-back victories at Beverley.
He tumbled coming out of the stalls and apprentice Darren Egan did well to stay on board.
Landaman took up the running at the top of the home straight and it was never in doubt after that and he completed a two-and-a-half-length win over Las Verglas Star and Paul Hanagan.
Egan, who added victory in the first race of Glorious to his win in Goodwood’s first race of the season back in May, said: “He jumped a bit awkwardly, stumbled and I nearly came out of the side door. I just let him take me there, I gave him a kick in the belly coming down the hill and he ran on really well.
“I thought I’d gone a bit early, but fair play to him he stayed on. I’d like to thank Mr Johnston for giving me the ride.”
Johnston said: “It’s a relief to get off the mark at Goodwood and he could run again later in the week.”
Trainer John Gosden and jockey William Buick aren’t getting much wrong this season and are tipped by some to be the top partnership at Glorious this week.
And they got off the mark when Blessington (15/2) took the Casino At bet365.com EBF Maiden Stakes, beating another Channon/Harley horse Vallarta.
Uppercut was a 16/1 winner of the Poker At bet365 Stakes for Neil Callan and trainer Stuart Kittow although was pushed all the way by another 50/1 shot, Bancnuanaheireann.
The last, the Mobile at bet365 Stakes, went to another outsider, 22/1 contender Time Medicean, ridden by Raul da Silva for trainer Tony Carroll.
In a third photo finish of the day, Time Medicean took it by a short head from Le Toreador, a 25/1 contender ridden by Phil Makin.