Cirrus Des Aigles has not had the best experiences in Hong Kong on his past three visits. But after proving age is just a number at Ascot on British Champions Day earlier this month, trainer Corine Barande-Barbe is hopeful of a more successful raid in December.
Cirrus Des Aigles put up a bold show in finishing second to Godolphin’s Farhh in the Champion Stakes, and now in rude health, the evergreen seven year old was among a total of 172 international horses entered for the HK$72 million (Dh32m) card held at Sha Tin Racecourse on December 8.
The ageless gelding was fifth in the Hong Kong Vase over 2,400 metres in 2009, seventh in the Hong Kong Cup over 2,000m a year later and improved on that placing when finishing fifth in the same race in 2011.
Last year, Cirrus Des Aigles travelled to Hong Kong, but picked up an injury in training that lingered for much of the season.
“Cirrus Des Aigles has come out of Ascot very well and is likely to go for the Hong Kong Cup,” said Barande-Barbe, who also entered her charge for the Vase.
“He has been getting better and better from race to race this season and I think the real Cirrus Des Aigles is back.
“He has been a bit unlucky when he has gone to Hong Kong in the past. The first time he was not mature enough.
He was caught wide in the Cup and then the next year he got boxed in, but wasn’t beaten far on both occasions.
“Hopefully, we will get better luck this year and we are going there to get some revenge.”
Although the total number of international horses entered across the four international Group 1 races is down from 210 last season, Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard leads a bumper list of nine UAE entries, up from six 12 months ago.
Reynaldothewizard has not run for trainer Satish Seemar since landing the US$2 million (Dh7.37m) sprint over 1,200 metres at Meydan Racecourse in March, and could be joined in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint over the same distance by Doug Watson’s Dux Scholar. Watson has also entered Dux Scholar in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile. In the same race, Seemar has entered Surfer, who capped a solid campaign last season with a seventh-place finish in the Godolphin Mile on World Cup night, and Zambucca, a South African import.
Surfer and Zambucca have also been entered for the Hong Kong Cup, alongside Watson’s Meandre, who was transferred to his stable from Seth Benzel’s with Dux Scholar at the end of last season.
They could be joined in the race by Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light.
“We are pleased to have 12 horses from the world’s top 50 together with the Group 1 winners that have been nominated,” said Bill Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s executive director of racing.
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