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Cirrus des Aigles set to return to Ascot for the Betfair King George

15 Jul 2013

The next QIPCO British Champions Series race is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored by Betfair), the fifth leg of the Middle Distance division, which French superstar Cirrus des Aigles is targeting.

Cirrus des Aigles wins the QIPCO Champion Stakes on the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day on October 2011. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Corine Barande-Barbe is looking forward to seeing her stable star, Cirrus Des Aigles, return to Ascot for the £1-million King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) on Saturday 27 July.

The Group 1 mile and a half contest, leg five in the Middle Distance division of the QIPCO British Champions Series, has 15 top horses still engaged.

Cirrus Des Aigles captured the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day 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 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on 23 June and faded to finish fifth behind Novellist, beaten four and a half lengths.

He is currently second favourite in the ante-post betting for the Ascot showpiece behind St Nicholas Abbey, who went down by a neck to Cirrus Des Aigles when they took each other on in the 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.

"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 1 horses on his first start of the season and he did it quite well.

"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 VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) 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 who gained a second Group 1 success in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and has been victorious on seven of his nine starts.

The international aspect of the Betfair 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.

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 in February.

Very Nice Name was last seen out at Meydan in the Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night on 30 March, when he ran a gallant race to finish a close third to St Nicholas Abbey.

Aidan O’Brien has sent out St Nicholas Abbey to six Group 1 victories in Europe, Dubai and the USA, and the Irish handler could also be represented by talented three-year-olds Mars and Battle Of Marengo in a 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.

Other possibles include Mukhadram, second in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and an unlucky third in Sandown’s Eclipse Stakes, Ektihaam, who slipped up when favourite for the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, the recent Princess of Wales’s Stakes winner at Newmarket, Universal, and the Hong Kong Vase winner and Dubai World Cup and Melbourne Cup runner-up, Red Cadeaux.