Star count rises again as Nathaniel and Moonlight Cloud are confirmed for Ascot
29 Sep 2011
Nathaniel, the world's best middle distance horse so far this year, and Moonlight Cloud, potentially Europe's top sprinter, both miss Arc weekend in Paris to head for the ever more spectacular-looking QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot.
Moonlight Cloud on her way to post in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas over a mile trip that she failed to stay – next stop for Europe’s emerging sprint star, the QIPCO British Champions Sprint. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.
As anticipated once the weather forecast for this week became apparent, Nathaniel, the top-rated middle distance horse in the world so far this year, will not run in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris and will instead tackle the £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes, the richest race ever run in Britain and the last of the five championship races that will light up QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 15 October.
At the same time, France’s top sprinter who has strong claim to be the best in Europe, the Freddy Head-trained Moonlight Cloud, has been pulled out of the Prix de l’Abbaye, one of the main supporting races on Arc Day.
She will instead run in the £250,000 QIPCO British Champions Sprint on the same sparkling Ascot card which promises more and more to be the greatest day of Flat racing this country has ever seen.
Nathaniel is set to face the likes of Twice Over, seeking a record-equalling hat-trick of Champion Stakes victories, Midday, Green Destiny, Wigmore Hall, Ransom Note and French star Cirrus Des Aigles in the mile-and-a-quarter QIPCO Champion Stakes.
Moonlight Cloud could be up against Deacon Blues, Hoof It, Society Rock, Bated Breath, Delegator, Genki and others in the six furlong QIPCO British Champions Sprint.
Nathaniel hit the headlines with two scintillating Ascot victories in the summer, taking the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in July in the style of a champion for trainer John Gosden.
Moonlight Cloud, meanwhile, scorched to a facile four-length victory in the six-and-a-half furlong Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in August, leaving Society Rock, Genki and Dream Ahead trailing in her wake.
More and more equine stars are being confirmed alongside the mighty Frankel for the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day on an almost daily basis and the picture will become clearer still next week once the dust has settled from Arc Day.
Perhaps some of the Longchamp winners will seek to double-up at Ascot or some of the losers will seek compensation on the most valuable raceday ever staged in Britain.
One thing is for sure – the glittering climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series promises to sizzle from start to finish!
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