Moonlight Cloud puts rivals in shade with dazzling win
Lethal Force no match as mare breaks course record to win Deauville prize for the third time
While connections of Sky Lantern reflected on another exasperating reverse for the leading British filly of her generation, the French yesterday gave notice that an older mare continues to set the international standard.
Looking better than ever, Moonlight Cloud broke the track record as she saw off the British summer’s breakthrough sprinter, Lethal Force, with a coruscating exhibition at Deauville. It was the five-year-old’s third consecutive success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, and exalted her ever closer to the great Goldikova on the CV of their trainer, Freddy Head.
A disappointing performance at the Breeders’ Cup last autumn, in a race won three times by Goldikova, remains the only one Moonlight Cloud has produced over the past two seasons that did not confirm her elite calibre. Last summer she came within an ace of becoming the only horse ever to beat Black Caviar, and was hampered before finishing best in the Prix Jacques le Marois. That race remains on her agenda this time round, despite again being run as soon as this Sunday.
That will stretch her speed out to a mile, though she was always cruising yesterday over six and a half furlongs – even with the pace being set by the winner of two Group One sprints this summer. Lethal Force, having won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and July Cup, was attempting to become the first British sprinter since Dayjur, in 1990, to win three such races in a row. But Moonlight Cloud scythed him down entering the final furlong before clearing away by just under two lengths, with the admirable Gordon Lord Byron finishing strongly for a place. The other Irish raider, Gale Force Ten, once again failed to build on his success in the Jersey Stakes, only 11th of 14.
Lethal Force did seem to drift wearily when headed, and jockey Adam Kirby told his trainer that the horse felt a little flat – but Clive Cox rightly acknowledged that he requires no exoneration for losing out to such an accomplished rival.
Another British raid was foiled in Düsseldorf when Secret Gesture, having come through in the straight to go clear, was run down in the final stages of the German Oaks by one of the home fillies, Penelopa. It was not difficult to see why connections had been tempted to drop Secret Gesture to 10 furlongs, after she had likewise finished second in the Epsom original. Indeed, she had initially been declared to run in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Saturday – a race that proved a rare disappointment, on the final day of the meeting, for a trainer and jockey who respectively accumulated nine and eight wins during its course.
Richard Hughes found his path blocked at a critical stage before finishing fifth behind Winsili, so reprising his frustrations when the latter’s stablemate Elusive Kate had won a controversial duel at Newmarket last month. Richard Hannon is already proposing to train Sky Lantern for a rematch with Winsili in the Filly and Mare Turf at the Breeders’ Cup – where the Mile is also the ultimate target for his Sussex Stakes winner, Toronado.
Chris McGrath’s Nap
Pearl Ice (3.45 Ripon)
Lost his way after impressing over course and distance last year but signs of rejuvenation on latest start.
Arctic Lynx (7.00 Windsor)
Unlucky last time and looks to be thriving now for a trainer who excels with sprinters.
One to watch
Coral Mist (Charles Hills) was taken off her feet in the early stages at Goodwood but rattled home for third.
Latest in Sport
Petr Cech demands talks over Chelsea future as Thibaut Courtois begs him to stay – as mentor
Angel Di Maria: Manchester United to push ahead with £50m move for Real Madrid winger
Marcos Rojo to Manchester United: Sporting Lisbon confirm deal with Nani heading back to Portugal on loan
Sami Khedira to Arsenal: Midfield omitted from Real Madrid squad for Spanish Super Cup
David Gold furious after Carlton Cole parody account mocks up a picture of West Ham chairman as a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 3 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 4 Nicki Minaj finally releases predictable 'Anaconda' video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world'
£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...