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Cirrus Des Aigles underlines his star status

1 Apr 2012

QIPCO Champion Stakes hero lands the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night at Meydan to get his 2012 campaign off to a flying start.

Cirrus Des Aigles, ridden for the first time by Olivier Peslier, is greeted by his connections, including trainer Corine Barande-Barbe (one from the left), after a brilliant Dubai Sheema Classic triumph. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Cirrus Des Aigles, hero of the inaugural QIPCO Champion Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot last October, again proved his class with a fine victory in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night at Meydan yesterday.

Olivier Peslier, riding the gelding for the first time, struck for home early in a slowly run race and victory for the ultra-tough six-year-old was never in doubt thereafter.

St Nicholas Abbey, winner of last season’s Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom and Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in the USA, made a strong challenge inside the final furlong, but Jospeh O’Brien’s mount could only get to within a neck of the winner.

For French trainer Corine Barande-Barbe, it was the continuation of a fantastic dream:"If a horse comes from behind it pushes him. It is a big emotion [for me]. I was very happy – with him he always comes better and better.

"It is just like a dream that never stops. He really likes very, very big racecourses."

With a first prize of almost £2m, Cirrus Des Aigles has now amassed career earnings of over £3.5m. A first appearance at Royal Ascot surely now beckons, with the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, a key race in the QIPCO British Champions Series Middle Distance category over the QIPCO Champion Stakes course and distance, the obvious target.

Aidan O’Brien was delighted with St Nicholas Abbey, who would have benefitted from a faster early pace and is sure to come on for the run. An attempt to win the Investec Coronation Cup, the opening race in the QIPCO British Champions Series Middle Distance category, for the second year in succession may now be on the cards.

One other QIPCO British Champions Series race winner was successful on the night, Opinion Poll taking a re-run of the Dubai Gold Cup at the end of the evening after the initial attempt to run the race was curtailed following an injury to one of the runners.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Opinion Poll was one of the stars of the QIPCO British Champions Series Long Distance division last year, landing both the Artemis Goodwood Cup and the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup, as well as finishing runner-up in the Stobart Doncaster Cup and QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.

He looks sure to be a big player in that division again after he returns to Britain in the next month with the other Godolphin horses.

In the night’s big race, the Dubai World Cup, the heavily backed Coral-Eclipse winner and QIPCO Champion Stakes runner-up, So You Think, proved a little disappointing.

He held every chance before fading into fourth place behind the Godolphin-owned winner, Monterosso, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni and ridden by the brilliant young Frenchman, Mickael Barzalona.

In the Al Quoz Sprint, Sole Power fared best of the trio of 2011 QIPCO British Champions Series sprint race winners, finishing a fine second to the Australian speed merchant, Ortensia.  The latter is now Royal Ascot-bound like her more famous compatriot, Black Caviar. Ortensia will target the King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs, while Black Caviar’s main target is the six furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes. 

Prohibit, winner of last year’s King’s Stand Stakes, and Margot Did, the 2011 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes winner, finished well back in the Al Quoz field. 

There was one British success on Dubai World Cup Night, however, when Cityscape, who had finished third to the now retired pair of Canford Cliffs and Goldikova in last season’s Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, trounced his rivals in the nine furlong Group 1 Dubai Duty Free. 

The Roger Charlton-trained six-year-old, who gave jockey James Doyle the biggest success of his career so far, could be in for a great season back in Europe.  

Elsewhere on the card, Hitchens, third in last year’s Darley July Cup, ran a very solid race to finish fourth behind Krypton Factor in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen, while there were victories for African Story (Seed bin Suroor/Frankie Dettori) in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile and for Daddy Long Legs (Aidan O’Brien/Colm O’Donoghue) in the Group 2 UAE Derby.