George Strawbridge's homebred Moonlight Cloud won a clash of top European stars Aug. 11 when the mare gamely held off outsider Olympic Glory to win the Prix Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) at Deauville, France.
The straight mile test was expected to be a showdown between Moonlight Cloud, QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Dawn Approach, and Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby, Fr-I) winner Intello.
Ridden by Thierry Jarnet for trainer Freddy Head, Moonlight Cloud was in the middle of the field before splitting horses to charge to the fore. She was headed for a sure victory when Olympic Glory and Frankie Dettori surged on the outside. Olympic Glory, making his first start after a 91-day layoff, fell short in his upset bid, with Moonlight Cloud holding on to win by the narrowest of margins in final time of 1:33.39 over the course rated good.
Intello finished third, followed by Declaration of War and Dawn Approach in the 13-horse field.
The victory was the fifth group I triumph and fourth at Deauville at the highest level for Moonlight Cloud, who has won 11 of 18 starts. The mare had stormed to a Deauville course record Aug. 4 in winning the Prix Maurice de Gheest (Fr-I) for a third time.
The Prix Jacques Le Marois is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). Moonlight Cloud finished a troubled eighth to eventual U.S. Horse of the Year Wise Dan in last year's BC Mile.
"I think with this victory she's joined Miesque and Goldikova among the Deauville legends," Head told Racing Post following the Jacques le Marois, making reference to two great international racing stars. Head trained Goldikova.
"We're delighted," trainer Richard Hannon, Jr., said of Olympic Glory's effort. "We've taken our time with him because he wasn't really right when he came back from France and he's paid us back for that. He's back right now and he's a very good horse.
"Frankie gave him a lovely ride and just couldn't get a run when he wanted. Dawn Approach died a little earlier than we expected and it just cost us a length coming round but he's run a super race."