Cloth Of Stars out to recapture lustre for Godolphin
The classy Cloth Of Stars returns to action in the Group 3 Prix Exbury at Saint-Cloud on Sunday, the first Group race of the year in Europe to be staged on turf.
Godolphin's four-year-old was fancied by many to land the Derby last year after wins at Group 2 and 3 level in the spring, but the Andre Fabre-trained colt may not have stayed when only eighth behind Harzand.
Cloth Of Stars, who ran only once more when third in the Grand Prix de Paris in July, is back to ten furlongs for this reappearance, in which he carries a 7lb penalty and faces nine rivals.
Godolphin representative Lisa-Jane Graffard said: "Cloth Of Stars has not run for a while but is in good form and Andre Fabre is very happy with him.
"He'll need the race and is carrying a penalty but has run very well over this course and distance in the past. He's not a big horse but we're very pleased with his condition going into his first start of the year."
Among his rivals is last year's EP Taylor Stakes third Banzari, while British interest is provided by the William Muir-trained Restorer, who is making his first start of the year.
Muir said: "It looks a tough race with two or three Group winners in there, but he's ready to start back and this will tell us whether we go back for the Group 2 Prix Harcourt or not.
"He doesn't like the all-weather but does like soft ground, so hopefully he can run a nice race."
British involvement in the preceding Listed Prix La Camargo is provided by Godolphin's Grecian Light, trained by Charlie Appleby, and Melesina, trained by Richard Fahey.
Grecian Light bagged some black type as a juvenile last year, finishing runner-up in a Group 2 and two Group 3s, and is fit from recent work on Newmarket's Waterhall gallop.
Appleby said: "Grecian Light ran a career best on soft ground at the Curragh last year and this looks a nice starting point for her return. She's been working nicely and hopefully can pick up some more black type."
Melesina has run twice at this year's World Cup Carnival at Meydan, last time finishing fourth, beaten three lengths, in the UAE Oaks.