Cirrus Des Aigles: has first start since last OctoberPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Cirrus returns in Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud
Preview: France, Sunday (2.55pm BST)
Saint-Cloud: Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Group 1) 1m4f, 4yo+
SAINT-CLOUD is nicknamed 'Golden Valley' by locals and Corine Barande-Barbe will be hoping the returning Cirrus Des Aigles can add a fourth Group 1 jewel to his already glittering career.
The world's highest-rated thoroughbred since the moment his Ascot conqueror Frankel retired, Cirrus Des Aigles must shake off whatever rust has accumulated since last October against ten rivals ready to pounce on any weakness in the seven-year-old.
Barande-Barbe has been pleased with her champion's progress during the spring having given him plenty of time to recover from a ligament strain sustained in Hong Kong last December.
"He's had comebacks in the past that I've been very worried about which he has then won easily," she points out with reference to the nine length rout in the Prix Dollar at Longchamp last October. However that was against Group 2 opposition and this afternoon's field are unlikely to be so easily dismissed.
Chief among the contenders is Dunaden, with owner Sheihk Fahad's ambition to win a European Group 1 over 1m4f stoked by the seven-year-old's impressive third in the 1m2½f Prix Ganay, which was followed by a three and three-quarter lengths defeat to St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup.
Trainer Mikel Delzangles said: "He ran very well in the Coronation Cup and this is the logical next step for the horse."
Another well-travelled veteran, Joshua Tree, was back in third at Epsom, having appeared not to stay in the Yorkshire Cup on his reappearance.
Trainer Ed Dunlop said: "It's a good race with Cirrus Des Aigles, Dunaden and one or two others. He's in good form although it's difficult to know if the ground will be much of a help."