Moffatt excited by Moonlight Spirit’s potential

Jimmy Moffat believes Moonlight Spirit has earned a step up in class after the former Godolphin-owned five-year-old scored on his stable debut at Carlisle on Sunday.

The son of Dubawi, a French Group Two winner on the Flat for Charlie Appleby, is the brother of Alqamar, who won four consecutive hurdles races for Moffat over the summer.

Moffat paid £75,000 for Moonlight Spirit at the Goffs UK Spring Horses In Training sale in May and he has started to repay some of his price tag with a three-length success on his first start over hurdles.

The Cartmel-based handler, who tasted plenty of success with the likes of Aintree specialist Highland Lodge and Grade One-winning hurdler Chief Dan George, sees plenty of potential in Moonlight Spirit.

Moffat said: “We bought his full brother, Alqamar, at the September Sales in 2020. He took to jumping very well and won four on the bounce – a maiden, novice and two decent handicaps – so with that background, Godolphin bloodstock sales manager Marie Sullivan rang me and said they had his full brother going to the sales.

“Obviously I was interested, given the attitude of the other horse. He is a bigger model than Alqamar, but his last four runs on the Flat disappointed Godolphin.

“Yet when he ran in the Ascot Gold Cup last year, which Stradivarius won, he was upsides, albeit off the bridle, a furlong and a half from home.

“So, I thought, ‘that bodes well for a maiden hurdle’.

“He was slightly slow to pick up the ball jumping hurdles. That was why we were taking a little longer to get to the point where we were ready to run.

“I feel he was about 80 per cent fit on Sunday, he still had quite a round tummy on him and maybe was a few kilos overweight.

“We were concentrating on his jumping and it was an education that, if all went well, he would run very well – which he did. His work is not flashy, but he is very laid back at home.

“You can only beat what is in front of you and I thought the second horse (Fabuleaux De Clos), who was not far behind Ahoy Senor in an Ayr bumper, was pretty strong and the third (Roxanya) had run well twice up to about a 120-rating, so I’m happy enough and hopefully he will go on to better things.

“We are toying with the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock on January 22. It will all be down to his jumping and whether he can learn from that experience. That might be an interesting race for him.

“We have always felt that if you do have a good horse, don’t be shining your light under a bushel.

“But we’d be just as happy about going in another one at a lower level with a penalty, as Charlotte Jones takes 5lb off.

“Chief Dan George and Highland Lodge were really the top horses we have had, but while you always want to keep your feet on the ground with a nice horse, at the same time, this horse is the apple of our eye.”

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