The prospect of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, St Nicholas Abbey, clashing again with Sea Moon, the runner-up in the Churchill Downs contest, looks very much on the cards following the news that both horses are to be trained with a view to tackling the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup at Epsom, on June 2, writes Elliot Slater.
Aidan O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey got the better of the argument, back in November, showing just a bit too much speed for the year younger, Sea Moon, eventually drawing away inside the last 100 yards to score by two-and-a-half-lengths, to win the coveted and highly valuable prize.
Reports suggest that Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old has wintered particularly well, and that connections are excited at the prospect of him contesting many of the showcase middle-distance events of the campaign. The feeling is that the race at Epsom could prove very much closer than was the case in Kentucky.
St Nicholas Abbey has subsequently gone on to put up a great effort in failing by only a neck to catch the high-class French star, Cirrus Des Aigles, in the Dubai Sheema Classic and is expected to be one of the main standard-bearers for the Ballydoyle team once again, in 2012, for the European Flat season.
One big advantage the five-year-old son of Montjeu will have over Sea Moon is previous experience of the unique Epsom gradients. St. Nicholas Abbey proved, last year, that the camber and sharp turn at Tattenham Corner holds no terrors for him, when winning the Coronation Cup in style, at the expense of Sir Henry Cecil’s smart mare, Midday.
Sea Moon, winner of the Great Voltigeur Stakes, and third in the St Leger, seems likely to have a prep race before the Epsom clash. It would not be surprising to see St Nicholas Abbey head straight to Epsom, having been busy in Dubai, earlier in the term. The two horses will also go head-to-head in the Breeders Cup odds, for those feeling adventurous.