08/03/2012 4:06PM

Europe: Black Caviar rivals top Maurice de Gheest


Moonlight Cloud and Restiadargent, the two fillies edged by Black Caviar last month in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, meet again Sunday at Deauville in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, a sprint race over about 6 1/2 furlongs.

Moonlight Cloud, second by a head to Black Caviar, will be more widely expected to repeat her performance than Restiadargent. Bred and owned by American George Strawbridge and trained by Freddie Head, Moonlight Cloud is a six-time winner proven at the Group 1 level and is the defending champion in the de Gheest, a race she won last year by four lengths. Both the 2011 de Gheest and the Diamond Jubilee were run over soft, testing ground that Moonlight Cloud enjoys, and she is expected to find that type of going again Sunday at Deauville.

While less established than Moonlight Cloud, 3-year-old Restiadargent also is a year younger and might have more room to improve. Solid in six starts last year at 2, she only found her best form this year when turning in a game run to finish a neck behind Moonlight Cloud at Royal Ascot.

The expected 10-horse field also includes Strong Suit, who has disappointed in his two starts this year at age 4, and Marchand d’Or, at age 9 the grand old man of French sprints.

◗ At Goodwood on Friday, Ortensia ran her best race since she captured the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan when scoring a 1 1/4-length victory in the Group 2 King George Stakes. Ortensia, an Australian-based horse, had run into ground softer than she prefers when ninth and fourth in her first two starts in England this summer, but blasted home much the best over firmer footing on Friday. The victory has made her one of the favorites for the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on Aug. 24 at York.

– Marcus Hersh