Cirrus Des Aigles: one of 15 remaining in the Group 1 at Ascot on July 27PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Cirrus hitting top form for King George VI bid
CIRRUS DES AIGLES is impressing at home as connections prepare the seven-year-old for another tilt at Group 1 glory at Ascot.
Winner of the Qipco Champion Stakes in 2011 before finding only the mighty Frankel too good last year, Cirrus Des Aigles is one of 15 horses still declared for the Betfair-backed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the track on July 27.
Second favourite at around the 3-1 mark for the Group 1, Cirrus Des Aigles disappointed on his seasonal return in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud when fifth behind Novellist, but trainer Corine Barande-Barbe issued a positive update on Wednesday.
She said: "He is very, very well at the moment. He improved for his run at Saint-Cloud and improved with each piece of work afterwards - he has been really impressive. He had a little bit of a belly a month ago but it's gone now and he is probably more muscular compared to previous years. He is really coming in to top condition now and his work rider says that he has never been so sharp."
St Nicholas Abbey is the 2-1 favourite for the race, and was beaten by Cirrus Des Aigles in 2012 in the Dubai Sheema Classic, and Barande-Barbe added: "We are set to take on St Nicholas Abbey again but I think that Cirrus Des Aigles might have improved since they met in Dubai. Physically, he is a long horse and he used to be a bit light but now he looks stronger."
In what could be a blockbuster few days of racing on the Flat, the highly anticipated clash between Dawn Approach and Toronado in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 31 is still on following the latest forfeits stage.
Although Dawn Approach was victorious in the 2,000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes, the margin of victory was only a short head at Royal Ascot, and connections of Toronado felt they were badly affected by interference during the race.
A total of 26 horses remain entered for the Group 1, including Just The Judge, Sajjhaa and Gale Force Ten, although Magician was among those to be scratched on Wednesday.
Watering has already begun at Goodwood due to the recent hot weather, with clerk of the course Seamus Buckley happy with the state of the track.