No drama after Cirrus defeat
Corine Barande-Barbe insists it is "not a drama" that Cirrus Des Aigles suffered his third successive defeat at Deauville on Saturday.
The seven-year-old can count the 2011 Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot among his three Group One victories and he pushed the mighty Frankel close in last year's running of the same prestigious event on Champions Day.
Following Frankel's retirement, Cirrus Des Aigles took over as the world's highest-rated racehorse heading into the new campaign, but things have so far not gone to script.
He was beaten into fifth by German star Novellist on his belated return in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and was unable to turn to the tables on the same rival in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, finishing well beaten in fourth.
Saturday's Group Three Prix Gontaut-Biron appeared an excellent opportunity for him to get off the mark for the year, but he suffered an odds-on reverse at the hands of the little-known Petit Chevalier.
While disappointed her charge was only able to finish a close second, Barande-Barbe remains confident Cirrus Des Aigles will be back to his brilliant best by the time the Champion Stakes arrives on October 19.
Barande-Barbe said: "Everything is OK this morning. He has a small cut behind, probably from another horse, but is not serious.
"I was more disappointed by the result than the performance. There was not much pace in the race and maybe he should have started his run a bit sooner, but is not a drama that he was beaten.
"The winner was very brave and although the ground was fast, I was much happier with my horse's action at the finish than I was at Ascot.
"I think he is still on his way up and I think he will be back at the top (of his game) for the Champion Stakes - that has always been his main target this year."
Cirrus Des Aigles could make two more competitive appearances before his attempt to regain the Champion Stakes crown.
The Prix Dollar at Longchamp on October 5 is pencilled in as a likely target, but he could be seen in action before that.
The Juddmonte International at York later this month has already been ruled out, while the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 7 looks unlikely.
"I don't know yet where he will run between, but I think he has to run one or two more races before Ascot," said Barande-Barbe.
"The Prix Dollar is a logical race as it is two weeks before the Champion Stakes. He has run in the Dollar before Ascot for the last two years and it works well.
"We need to decide whether he needs another race before the Dollar. I will speak the owner and see what the horse wants to do!
"What I want to see is some rain, as that would help him a lot. I'm not very keen on going to Ireland. I don't want to force anything. I want things to come naturally."