x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Horse racing: Dubai winners Cirrus Des Aigles and St Nicholas Abbey could clash

Cirrus Des Aigles and St Nicholas Abbey are entered at Royal Ascot while Dawn Approach is under scrutiny after English Derby 12 disappointment, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Jockey Joseph O’Brien rides St Nicholas Abbey to a win in the Dubai Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup in March. Sammy Dallal / The National
Jockey Joseph O’Brien rides St Nicholas Abbey to a win in the Dubai Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup in March. Sammy Dallal / The National

A potential mouth-watering clash between the past two winners of the Dubai Sheema Classic could be on the cards after the entries to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot next month were published Wednesday.

Cirrus Des Aigles, the 2011 Sheema Classic victor, is pencilled in, as is St Nicholas Abbey, who won the US$5 million (Dh20.2m) contest at Meydan Racecourse in March en route to securing his third Coronation Cup at Epsom on English Derby day earlier this month.

Cirrus Des Aigles has been off the track since handing Frankel his sternest assignment of his 14-race career when chasing home the now-retired colt in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October under Olivier Peslier.

The seven-year-old gelding has had injury problems since, and with Peslier set to ride Alban De Mieulle's Very Nice Name, Cirrus Des Aigles looks an unlikely runner.

Very Nice Name was third behind St Nicholas Abbey and Gentildonna, the Japanese raider, in Dubai and De Mieulle, who is a regular raider to the UAE from Qatar but is now based in France for the summer, is looking forward to running his improving colt.

"We hoped to run in the Grand Prix de Chantilly last week but the ground was not right for him so we decided to wait. He will go straight to Ascot now," De Mieulle said of his HH Emir Trophy winner.

"He has improved a lot since he has come back from Dubai. He did a very good piece of work when we were preparing him to run at Chantilly and I'm hoping there is more to come from him on the track."

Elsewhere, Dawn Approach will go through a serious piece of work at Jim Bolger's base in Ireland on Thursday to test whether he has recovered from his disappointing run in the English Derby 12 days ago.

Dawn Approach uncharacteristically pulled hard as soon the gates opened at Epsom draining him of vital energy before he finished last under Kevin Manning.

If he gallops satisfactorily, he will be aimed at the St James's Palace Stakes over a mile on Tuesday.

"Jim is very happy with how Dawn Approach has done since the Derby and he is keen to let him run at Royal Ascot if everything continues to go well with his preparation between now and Tuesday," said Simon Crisford of part-owners Godolphin.

"We had a discussion and Jim has been delighted with how relaxed Dawn Approach has been in his training."

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