10/15/2014 11:09AM

Another top miler comes out of Head's barn

Freddy Head has won five Breeders' Cup Miles -- two as a jockey and three as a trainer. He saddles Charm Spirit in Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Freddy Head’s name has been associated with great milers throughout his decorated career as both jockey and trainer, and the Frenchman is hoping to shine with yet another specialist at the eight-furlong distance this weekend.

With a proven record on soft ground, the Head-trained Charm Spirit has been popular with horseplayers this week ahead of Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, part of the lucrative QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot.

In the saddle, the 67-year-old is best known for riding Miesque, the Hall of Famer who became the first back-to-back Breeders’ Cup winner in the 1980s. As a trainer, he equaled and then surpassed that achievement with the incredible three-time Mile winner Goldikova.

Head’s stable at Chantilly near Paris is well stocked with milers. Goldikova’s full-brother Anodin is slated for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, and the progressive and exciting gray Solow may make an overseas trip in December for the rich Hong Kong international meeting.

Charm Spirit is currently the second choice behind Richard Hannon’s Night of Thunder for the QEII, with the pair already having met twice this year.

Night of Thunder struck a 40-1 surprise in the English 2000 Guineas in May, with Charm Spirit fifth in what was a tactical and unsatisfactory event, with the field splitting into two packs across the wide Newmarket track.

Charm Spirit, an Invincible Spirit 3-year-old, later won the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly and then exacted a narrow revenge on Night of Thunder when the pair was first and third in a very tight finish to the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp on Sept. 14.

“He has improved a lot since he last came to England,” said Head. “His work has been good, and I have been happy with his condition since the Moulin. Ascot is quite a difficult course, but he’s a horse that is capable of adapting, and it should suit him. The ground will not bother him – he will go on anything.”

While Night of Thunder’s connections are confident of turning the tables – the colt was caught at the rear of the field before making late gains – Charm Spirit’s task has been eased by the news that Hannon’s other runner, Toronado, will be switched to the Breeders’ Cup Mile and a clash with Anodin. Toronado was not thought suitable for the wet conditions in England.

A further guide to the health and strength of the Head mile team should be established Friday, when Thawaany, the runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest on Aug. 10, contests the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket’s Future Champions meeting.