x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

He knows he is number one, says Cirrus Des Aigles' trainer

Barande-Barbe is confident of the gelding's pace and ability to adapt to new places as she takes on a small but quality field in France.

Olivier Peslier rode Cirrus des Aigles to victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic race.
Olivier Peslier rode Cirrus des Aigles to victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic race.

By the time Cirrus Des Aigles goes to post in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp in France this afternoon, the first major test of the significance of his victory in Dubai last month will have already taken place.

Cirrus Des Aigles beat St Nicholas Abbey in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse on World Cup night, with Jakkalberry and Treasure Beach in behind.

The latter starts in the earlier Audemars Piguet QEII Cup in Hong Kong, but whatever Aidan O'Brien's charge achieves there Corine Barande-Barbe, the trainer, is bristling with confidence ahead of the first Group 1 race of the European flat turf season.

Cirrus Des Aigles faces just five other rivals after So You Think was taken out of the race this week.

If it is a field that lacks numbers it certainly does not lack quality, with Wigmore Hall set to line-up under Hayley Turner and Alain du Royer-Dupre saddling the exciting, but untested filly Giofra and Reliable Man, last season's French Derby winner. Saga Dream and Pagera, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, complete the field.

Wigmore Hall's chances seem remote with the likelihood of little real pace in the race, but Barande-Barbe is unconcerned at race tactics and believes the jockey Olivier Peslier can ride from the front if he wishes. "If there is a lack of pace the horse can do it all on his own," she told The National.

"He did it in the Grand Prix de St Cloud and he did it of sorts in Dubai when he went early.

"He knows he is number one in the world over middle distances and on turf."

If Cirrus Des Aigles comes out of today's race in good heart, he could well be on his travels once more as Barande-Barbe has entered the six-year-old gelding in the Singapore Airlines International Cup on May 20.

It will be the sixth country Cirrus Des Aigles has competed in, after his success in Dubai added to his victory in the Champion Stakes in England and high-profile defeats in Hong Kong and Japan.

"We have entered him in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and we'll see how he runs at Longchamp," she said.

"We've tried Hong Kong and we can't win there. We've done all the paperwork and vet stuff and we entered for all the publicity of the race and then thought, why not? He is a little legend and it will be fun to win in a new place."

In the post-race press conference at Meydan, a day after her birthday, Barande-Barbe described Cirrus Des Aigles as being a "horse of lifetime".

With the horse having accumulated just over Dh20,000,000 during a 41-race career it is hard to quibble with the 54-year-old handler.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE & Geoffrey Riddle @Louchepunter