Cirrus Des Aigles mission to be crowned in King George
Corine Barande-Barbe is relishing returning to Ascot for the King George on July 27 with her Cirrus Des Aigles.
Last Updated: 10/07/13 1:03pm
The Group One mile and a half contest has 15 top horses going forward following the latest scratchings deadline on Tuesday.
Cirrus Des Aigles captured the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, 2011, and found only the brilliant Frankel a length and three quarters too strong in the same race last year.
The seven-year-old, rated the best horse in training at the start of this year, made a belated return to action following a ligament injury in the Group One Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on June 23, and faded to finish fifth behind Novellist, beaten four and a half lengths.
He is currently Sky Bet's 3/1 second favourite for the Ascot showpiece behind St Nicholas Abbey (2/1), who went down by a neck to Cirrus Des Aigles when they took each other on in the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March, 2012.
Barande-Barbe, who trains in Chantilly, France, reported: "We are looking forward to bringing Cirrus Des Aigles over to Ascot again.
"We gave him a precautionary entry in the Grand Prix de Vichy on July 17 in case I wanted to give him a prep-run but it is a bit too near the King George and a bit too far from my stables.
"He is very, very well at the moment. He improved for his run at Saint-Cloud and improved with each piece of work afterwards - he has been really impressive."
"I knew that he would need the run in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He lacked a bit of rhythm on that occasion and he was taking a breath just as everybody else was pushing and fighting, so Olivier Peslier didn't ask him too much.
"He was standing up in his box the next day and looking very happy. It's hard work for him to meet top Group One horses on his first start of the season and he did it quite well.
"He worked on Tuesday on good going at Chantilly and he doesn't mind quicker ground. The going was quite firm when he won at Meydan last year and he coped with it well.
"We are set to take on St Nicholas Abbey again but I think that Cirrus Des Aigles might have improved since they met in Dubai. Physically, he is a long horse and he used to be a bit light but now he looks stronger.
"He had a little bit of a belly a month ago but it's gone now and he is probably more muscular compared to previous years. He is really coming in to top condition now and his work rider says that he has never been so sharp."
Germany celebrated a first success in the King George with Danedream in 2012.
The country is set to lay down another strong challenge with the best horse racing there - the Andreas Wohler-trained Novellist (11/2) who gained a second Group One success in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and has been victorious on seven of his nine starts.
The international aspect of the King George is emphasised by Alban De Mieulle, who trains predominantly in Qatar but also in France, and is planning to run improving four-year-old Very Nice Name (20/1).
The son of Whipper, who is currently in France, racked up five wins from as many starts in Qatar; culminating with a comfortable victory in the valuable Emir Trophy (local Group One) in February.
Very Nice Name, the leading performer in Qatar, was last seen out at Meydan, UAE, in the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night on March 30, when he ran a gallant race to finish a close third to St Nicholas Abbey and Japanese star Gentildonna.
Aidan O'Brien has sent out St Nicholas Abbey to six Group One victories in Europe, Dubai and the USA, and the Irish handler may also be represented by talented three-year-olds Mars and Battle Of Marengo, plus recent Curragh Group Three scorer Ernest Hemingway and Chamonix in the race that he has won three times.
Irish Derby victor Trading Leather adds further strength to the three-year-old contingent. The Teofilo colt's trainer Jim Bolger saddled St Jovite to complete the Curragh-Ascot double in 1992.
Mukhadram may step up to a mile and a half after finishing second in the Group One Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and an unlucky third in Sandown's Eclipse Stakes on July 6, both run over 10 furlongs.
The four-year-old's owner Hamdan Al Maktoum could rely on Ektihaam, who slipped up when favourite for the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot - a race in which Universal finished third and Mount Athos (20/1) came fifth.
Hong Kong Vase winner and Dubai World Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, from Ed Dunlop's Newmarket stable, and Godolphin's dual Group One winner Hunter's Light, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, complete the possible runners at the moment.
There is a £75,000 supplementary entry stage on July 22.