Trainer Freddie Head has revealed that classy mare Moonlight Cloud’s poor record outside France is a concern heading into the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Moonlight Cloud has produced a number of phenomenal performances to win at Group 1 level on six occasions in France but has been unsuccessful in four previous starts outside of her home country.
The Invincible Spirit mare went closest to breaking her international drought when she finished a narrow second behind Black Caviar in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1207m) at Royal Ascot last year and did not perform at her best in the Group 1 1000 Guineas Stakes (1600m), Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile (1609m) and Group 2 British Champions Sprint Stakes (1207m).
Moonlight Cloud’s performance in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (1609m) at Santa Anita last year was particularly disappointing, beating home just a single runner, and Head told Racing Ahead this morning that he is still at a loss to explain why his star galloper performed so poorly; admitting that he is worried the same might happen again this weekend.
“I thought that she was well but maybe she had a hard season last year and Santa Anita is a left hand track.
“She had a bit of a tough race, with pushing and things, and she just didn’t perform.
“I don’t know what happened that day and it is a concern.
“I find that she is very well but I thought that she was well last year so that is a question mark.”
Moonlight Cloud has been flawless in France this season, recording four straight wins including three victories at Group 1 level, and Head believes that the five-year-old is in career best form heading into the Hong Kong Mile this weekend.
“I think that she is a better mare now than she was last year when she went to Santa Anita,” Head said.
“She is very clever and she knows how to run now; she settles and she can keep that turn-of-foot in the end.
“She is very special.
“She is amazing, she has been good all her life but I think that she has improved all the way.”
There have been reports that Moonlight Cloud may be retired after running in the Group 1 event this weekend but Head said that no decision about the future of the six-time Group will be made until after she runs on Sunday.
“We don’t know yet and we will discuss that after the race,” Head said.
Moonlight Cloud will be the first horse trained in Europe to win the Hong Kong Mile since Godolpin-owned Firebreak if she is successful on Sunday.