Past Winners » Cirrus Des Aigles


It is not difficult to be against the top two in the market here. Nathaniel has looked a smart colt on his last two starts, his last three starts if you include his close second to Treasure Beach in the Chester Vase, but they have all been over a mile and a half. The Arc had been his aim but the quick ground forced connections to look here instead, where there seemed to be a better chance of easy ground. The ground hasn’t come in his favour though, conditions look set to be on the quick side on Saturday and, while his two most impressive performances have both come at Ascot, so he does go well at the track, the drop back to 10 furlongs on quick ground is all against him.

So You Think is harder to dismiss, he does set a high standard. However, his run in the Arc was only 13 days ago, it is not certain that he will have had sufficient time to recover from his exertions there, even though Seamie Heffernan has said that the horse had a lot left at the finish. Pilsudski and Pride did both win the Champion Stakes in recent times having run in the same year’s Arc (they both finished second in Paris), so it is possible, but it is still a negative against So You Think.

Even on form, though, So You Think is under-priced, as he usually is, given the hype that accompanied him from Australia. His Eclipse win would give him a big chance, but that race was effectively a match against Workforce, who is not a 10-furlong horse and who has subsequently proved he is probably not as good this year as he was last year.

So You Think only beat Snow Fairy by a half a length in the Irish Champion Stakes, she beat him by the same margin in the Arc, yet the Ballydoyle horse is 1/4 of Snow Fairy’s price for Saturday’s race, which doesn’t make sense.

Midday is interesting, the shorter home straight at Ascot may well be in her favour, as will the quicker ground than that which she encountered in the Juddmonte International, but she is priced up about right at 7/1.

The French horse Cirrus Des Aigles is over-priced, however, in my book at 8/1 (as is Dubai Prince at 12/1). French-trained horses have a good record in the race, probably because of the fact that the top French horses are often geared towards a late-season campaign, and they often meet British and Irish horses who have been on the go all season in this race. Pride and Literato won it in 2006 and 2007 respectively, and Tel Quel, Hatoof and Dernier Empereur all won in the early 1990s. They have won it nine times in the last 30 years.

Cirrus Des Aigles has improved this year as a five-year-old, and age is no barrier to success in the race – Triptych, Pilsudski and Twice Over have all won it at five in the last 20 years, while Pride was six when she won it.

Corine Barande-Barbe’s horse takes his racing really well, he has had nine starts already this season, but he had a short break before running a close second to Byword in the Prix Dollar at Longchamp on Arc weekend. That was a little disappointing on the face of it, but Byword is high class on his day, he only beat Cirrus Des Aigles by a short neck, the pair of them clear, and Cirrus Des Aigle’s trainer said afterwards that the runner-up was a fairly stuffy horse who would come on for the run.

While the Even Top gelding has yet to win a Group 1 contest (he has been winning Group 2s and Group 3s this summer), he has gone close on all three of his runs this season at the top level, including when narrowly beaten by Goldikova in the Prix d’Ispahan over an inadequate nine furlongs, and when caught close home by Sarafina over 12 furlongs in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

He goes well on easy ground, but he is at home on a sound surface also, and he appears to be under-rated by the market, possibly due to his lack of Group 1 success, possibly due to the fact that he has been racing in France, generally away from the eyes of British bookmakers and punters.

His French form is rock solid though. He beat Silver Pond by 10 lengths in the Grand Prix de Deauville, and that form was boosted when the runner-up came out and ran a highly creditable race in the Arc from a terrible draw. He has also beaten Announce a couple of times, and that filly has subsequently won a Group 1 contest, and was unlucky not to win the Prix de l’Opera on Arc day. The bookmakers pushed him out from 4/1 and 5/1 to 7/1 and 8/1 after he got beaten in the Prix Dollar, and that might have been a severe over-reaction.

I am also backing Dubai Prince at 12/1 …