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Cirrus des Aigles and St Nic on course for King George Clash

Cirrus des Aigles and St Nicholas Abbey remain firmly on course for Saturday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Cirrus des Aigles just shades favouritism at 2-1 with St Nicholas Abbey at 9-4.

Aidan O’Brien’s six-year-old will be having his third run in the race having finished third to Nathaniel in 2011 and filling the same position behind Danedream last year. He has won both starts this year, the Dubai Classic at Meydan and the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

O’Brien has also declared Chamonix and Ernest Hemingway for the Group One event. Cirrus des Aigles is the highest rated horse in the field but disappointed when only fifth on his seasonal debut behind Novellist at Saint Cloud.

The French horse is far better judged on his excellent second to Frankel at this course last year, beaten only a length and three-quarters. Cirrus des Aigles also won the 200 Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter here in 2011.

Hillstar has been supplemented by Sir Michael Stoute at a cost of £75,000. The colt stepped up from handicap company to beat Battle Of Marengo at Royal Ascot and will be partnered by Ryan Moore.

Novellist represents Germany and William Buick could step in for the ride with Moore now claimed to partner Hillstar. Irish Derby winner Trading Leather looks the better of the three-year-olds on form and it will be intriguing to see how the current generation match up to their elders.

France will also be represented by Very Nice Name, third behind St Nicholas Abbey in Dubai this spring. Roger Varian is hoping for better luck for Ektihaam, an unlucky faller in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting after slipping in the early stages of the contest.

He is reported to be none the worse for the accident and will be reunited with regular partner Paul Hanagan. Mark Johnston’s tough and consistent Universal gets a crack at Group One opposition after a comfortable win at Newmarket’s July meeting

The field is completed by the globetrotting Red Cadeaux, well beaten behind Al Kazeem in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes last time.