Head wants more Moonlight
Freddie Head has revealed that he hopes Moonlight Cloud will stay in training beyond Sunday's Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.
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The brilliant mare has won 12 of her 20 career starts and completed a remarkable Group One hat-trick this summer but Head is realistic about the fact that the paddocks may beckon for the daughter of Invincible Spirit.
"This could be her last race," remarked the trainer. "Her future hangs on Sunday's race. As a trainer, I'd love to have her another season but the decision is up to George Strawbridge, who bred and owns her.
"He's a sportsman but the mare will be six years old soon and as a breeder, surely he can't wait to take her to stud. You don't want her to race one time too many. It is the kind of thing that you cannot really anticipate. One day, they lose it, the will to win. Moonlight Cloud has had an easier career than Goldikova though. She never had to compete with the likes of Zarkava, so who knows?"
Moonlight Cloud has dazzled European racing with some sensational performances that have earned her six Group One wins. She also has two notable defeats on her record, an arguably unlucky head second to Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012 and her lacklustre eighth when fancied for that year's Breeders' Cup Mile, her only previous venture outside of Europe.
In the wake of that Breeders' Cup Mile disappointment in California, Head and Strawbridge decided some time ago that Hong Kong in December was the ideal fit for the mare who, on the form book, will be hard to beat.
"George Strawbridge decided to send her here rather than another tilt at the Breeders' Cup because he figured she would be better off on this racecourse," said Head. "The mare has developed year after year since she arrived at my yard but never as much as last winter oddly enough. She has become stronger but wiser too and she's much easier to deal with nowadays."
Head was pleased on Wednesday morning with his first view of his stable star since arriving in Hong Kong.
"I liked her piece of work this morning over the dirt track, which rode a bit softer than the previous days, according to the mare's rider, Philippe Coppin.
"Moonlight Cloud was very cautious, but she gave me the impression that she's at her best for Sunday's race. I don't think that she will have to gallop over the turf this week. She's good. I hope that she won't let us down on Sunday."