Cirrus under no cloud
Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe reports Cirrus Des Aigles in "cracking form" ahead of his run at Deauville on Saturday.
After pushing the mighty Frankel closer than most managed in last October's Champion Stakes at Ascot, Cirrus Des Aigles entered the new campaign as officially the highest-rated Flat horse in training.
His comeback was delayed by a ligament injury suffered when being prepared to run in Hong Kong last year and when he did eventually return, he could only finish fifth behind German ace Novellist in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
Barande-Barbe's stable star was widely expected to reverse the placings when the pair met again in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, but Novellist once again stole the show, with Cirrus Des Aigles only fourth.
The seven-year-old drops to Group Three level, with another tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes on October 19, a race he won two years ago, his major target.
Barande-Barbe, who supplemented Cirrus Des Aigles for the race, said: "He is running on Saturday and I am very pleased with his condition. He is in cracking form.
"He came out of Ascot fine, he just didn't give 100% on the going. I think he is now a very clever horse and is a bit more careful when the ground is hard, which it was at Ascot for the King George.
"He is getting better and better all the time and I think I will have him at the top of his game for the Champion Stakes."
This weekend's Deauville outing is unlikely to be Cirrus Des Aigles' final run before the Champion Stakes.
The three-times Group One winner is entered in the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, but Barande-Barbe is in no rush to firm up his route to Champions Day.
"He is a horse who needs to run, he doesn't like a long time between races," said the trainer.
"After Saturday, he will run again before the Champion Stakes, but we will see a bit later which race we go for."
Perhaps Cirrus Des Aigles' biggest threat in this 10-furlong test is Mandour, who landed the Gala Stakes at Sandown on his latest start.
Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre said: "The horse is well and I have been pleased with him since his run at Sandown.
"My only concern is Deauville is a short track and if there is no pace, you could have a problem.
"I think he is a very good horse, he has a lot of ability."