04/20/2010 12:00AM

Middle Club travels for a prep

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British invader Middle Club holds the big stick at Saint-Cloud on Thursday as the only stakes winner in the Group 3, $108,000 Prix Penelope, a 1 5/16-mile prep for the French Oaks. A daughter of Fantastic Light trained by Richard Hannon, Middle Club is accustomed to making the trip to France from her home base in Marlborough, Wiltshire, as she won the one-mile, Group 3 Prix d'Aumale at Chantilly in September. She prepared for her latest journey with a win in a 1 1/4-mile conditions race on the Kempton Park Polytrack on March 24. Richard Hughes retains the ride.

Trainer Pascal Bary hopes that Dariole can improve upon her victory in a 1 1/4-mile Saint-Cloud allowance on April 9. The runner-up that day, Sinndarina, a daughter of Sinndar out of Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt winner Ana Marie, looks like an improving sort from Philippe Demercastel, while A Media Luz is taking a big step up after beginning her career with a pair of wins at Fontainebleau.

* Beethoven, the winner of the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes before his sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, will miss the 2000 Guineas on May 1.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien said on his website Tuesday that Beethoven, a son of Oratorio who is nominated to the Triple Crown, suffered "a slight training setback" and will be aimed at the French 2000 Guineas on May 16 instead.

O'Brien still has the 2-1 Guineas favorite, St Nicholas Abbey, headed for Newmarket.

* The eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano on Iceland is playing havoc with Sunday's two big races in Hong Kong.

The volcanic ash covering northern Europe has made it impossible for Cat Junior, trained by Brian Meehan, to leave England for the $1.5 million Champions Mile, while the Carlos Laffon-Parias-trained Chinchon is stuck in France and will miss the $1.8 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup. British rider Ryan Moore will also miss his QEII Cup ride on Presvis.

Cat Junior will run instead in the $153,000 Sandown Mile on Saturday, while Chinchon could go in the $405,000 Prix Ganay on May 2.