Cirrus des Aigles out to regain his Champion crown
17 Oct 2013
Winner of the QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2011 and second to the mighty Frankel last year, Cirrus des Aigles will face nine opponents as he looks to win back his Champion Stakes crown.
Cirrus des Aigles returns in triumph after his 2011 QIPCO Champion Stakes victory. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.
Everything points to Cirrus des Aigles, who won the £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2011 from a plethora of stars like So You Think, Snow Fairy and Midday, and made Frankel work very hard for victory last year.
After picking up an injury in Hong Kong last December, the seven-year-old had been very disappointing this year until winning a small race at Maisons-Laffitte in September.
That run hinted at a return to form and next time he was the easy winner of his third Prix Dollar on Arc Weekend at Longchamp.
With the ground in his favour and his trainer saying he is back to his very best now, he will clearly take a lot of beating.
However, he has nine opponents to face and some of them also have big claims on a victory in Europe’s richest ten furlong race, none more so than Farhh.
He has the class, won’t mind softish ground (very soft ground might be an issue, however) and every time he has had a break, he has been victorious.
On this occasion he has not run since May due to injury, but he’s reported to be in great form now.
There is a caveat though. The four times he has raced and won after a break (which includes his career debut), the distance was a mile over which he looked particularly impressive in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury this May.
He has raced with great credit over ten furlongs, notably when runner-up to Nathaniel in last year’s Coral-Eclipse on good-to-soft ground and when second to Frankel, beaten a long way mind you, in last year’s Juddmonte International on fast ground.
In the Coral-Eclipse in particular, it looked like he only just stayed the trip and against a battle-hardened Cirrus des Aigles on soft ground, will he have the power to beat the French superstar?
Mukhadram, runner-up to Al Kazeem in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot when beaten only by a neck, has been trained for this but does not have Group 1 winning form and the soft ground is a definite concern, while the mile and a quarter trip looks on the short side for both Ruler Of The World and Hillstar.
Ruler Of The World looked a champion when winning the Investec Derby, but he flopped in the Irish version before coming back to run a very solid race when beaten a short head in the Prix Niel at Longchamp in September.
He followed that with a staying-on seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe just 11 days ago, but all his form points to a mile and a half as his best trip.
Hillstar, likewise, has his best form at a mile and a half, notably when third in the King George.
Soft ground will undoubtedly help his cause and one can expect a bold show, but he will need to improve considerably to beat an on-song Cirrus des Aigles.
The improving French raider Morandi has appeal – he has some very useful form in France and the bookmakers have taken money for him this week.
He ran Arc third Intello close over a mile and a quarter at Longchamp and that gives him a shout.
Another French raider must also be noted – Intello’s stable companion, Triple Threat – but he would need to improve to take a hand in the finish.
Last year’s Investec Derby runner-up, Main Sequence, has failed to run to anywhere near that kind of form this seaosn, Hunter’s Light has Group 1 victories to his name and may have an outside chance, while the 2011 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes winner, Parish Hall, does not look good enough.
Can Cirrus do it again for his doting trainer Corine Barande-Barbe? Don’t miss this magical race! Get along to Ascot if you possibly can as tickets will be on sale at the gate.
For the full list of declarations and race information, CLICK HERE.