Cirrus the class act in Champion Stakes
Cirrus Des Aigles will relish the testing conditions at Ascot today and can make his class tell to land the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes for second time (4.05).
Trained in France by Corine Barande-Barbe, the gelding notched his first Group 1 success in this contest three years ago when beating a strong field which included So You Think, Snow Fairy and Midday.
Since then Cirrus has gone on to land five more successes at the highest level and amass total earnings of more than £5.8 million.
The son of Even Top has also finished runner-up in the last two renewals of this contest behind Frankel and Farhh, and has looked better than ever this season despite his advancing years.
The eight-year-old has won three group 1 contests, and in the first of those showed tremendous battling qualities to beat dual Arc winner Treve by a short neck in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp on very soft ground.
Cirrus then put in a dominant front running display in the Prix d’Ispahan at the same venue, only needing to be pushed out with hands and heels to beat Anodin by 1 1/2 lengths.
That was followed by a gutsy two length success in the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom after which he was found to be badly lame, and Cirrus then showed that injury had left no lasting damage when first past the post in the in Prix Dollar at Longchamp earlier in the month before being demoted by the stewards.
On all known form Cirrus is the one they all have to beat, and with the ground ideal and Cristophe Soumillon in the saddle it is going to take an ultra smart effort for anything to lower his colours.
If Cirrus does under perform, then Irish raider Free Eagle is the most likely one to take advantage.
The colt is trained by Dermot Weld and stormed home by seven lengths in a Group 3 contest at Leopardstown last time out on his first start for 371 days.
That was just Free Eagle’s third run, and the son of High Chaparral is totally unexposed and open to any amount of improvement.
The big question is whether Free Eagle will handle the soft conditions, but if he does then the three-year-old is a major player.