Time was when it was nothing out of the ordinary for a top-class horse to compete twice at the same meeting, even on successive days. To pull just one example out of the hat, the filly Signorinetta won the 1908 Derby and two days later completed a Classic double in the Oaks. Nowadays, such a work ethic is normally found only at lower levels, witness the handicapper Landaman, who last week took the opening race at Goodwood on Tuesday and the meeting's finale on Saturday.
So for Freddy Head to announce that his stable star Moonlight Cloud, the consummately easy five-length winner of the Prix Maurice de Gheest last Sunday at Deauville, will more than likely turn out again seven days on at her favourite track in the Prix Jacques le Marois, likewise a Group One contest, is a bold and sporting plan of attack.
But the filly has taken her race two days ago so effortlessly in her elegant stride that the Chantilly-based Head sees no reason not to put her out again. "She just cantered on Sunday," he said yesterday. "She ate up well that evening and this morning, and she's extremely well in herself. I will talk with [her owner] George Strawbridge about the Jacques le Marois but there is a very good chance she will run in it."
The four-year-old put herself at the top of the European sprinting leader board in the six-and-a-half furlong Maurice de Gheest, but would be stepping up to a mile next Sunday, her first try at the distance since she ran seventh, as 7-2 favourite, to Blue Bunting in last year's 1,000 Guineas.
Since then she has competed, with great success, between six and seven furlongs. But she is now a more mature individual and Head is sure she is ready to acquit herself with honour over a mile.
And there is a definite carrot for turfistes dangling in the future, in the form of a possible clash with Frankel on her patch. The Prix du Moulin, Longchamp's autumn eight-furlong championship, was one race mooted as a target for Britain's superstar.
"Could Frankel really come over?" asked Head. "I'm not sure he will, but if he does then there's all the more reason to run the filly on Sunday. And the way she runs now, there is hope that she will stay a mile. In the Maurice de Gheest she was on the wide outside and she couldn't get any cover. She had daylight in front of her all the way, but she settled beautifully, wasted no energy and she took little out of herself."
Further down the line, there is the intriguing possibility that Moonlight Cloud could follow the path of Head's all-time favourite, the three-time Breeders' Cup Mile heroine Goldikova. "That is another world," he said. "She has never turned on a round course left-handed, but it's something we may have to think about."
Chris McGrath's Nap: Bute Hall (3.50 Catterick)
Has proved consistent in better company since winning his maiden and takes a drop in class off his lowest handicap mark to date.
Next Best: Waspy (2.30 Bath)
Won recently over today's course and distance, with enough ease to suggest she can cope with a small ratings rise and strike again while in form.
Where The Money's Going: French filly Wizz Kid, second to Moonlight Cloud at Deauville on Sunday, is 12-1 from 16s for the Nunthorpe Stakes with Ladbrokes.Reuse content