Cirrus Des Aigles still ailing after subpar performance in Ascot race

Trainer says 'he needs a race and the rain came too late' after highly rated horse finished fourth in King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Cirrus Des Aigles has come up short since Olivier Peslier rode him to a Dubai Sheema Classic win on Dubai World Cup night in March. Yoshua Arias / EPA
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LONDON // Corine Barande-Barbe concedes that Cirrus Des Aigles was not fit enough for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday.

Christophe Soumillon, the jockey, suggested his mount lacked for condition after the race at Ascot, during which the world's highest-rated horse could


It was the second start of the season for Cirrus Des Aigles, having lost to the German raider in the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud in June, after which Barande-Barbe suggested her charge was at only 60 per cent.

The French trainer also lamented that the heavy rain that fell on London on Saturday night did not arrive sooner for her charge, who goes well on soft ground.

"Christophe said he needed a run he took a breath three times, which showed he needs a race and the rain came too late," she said. "I am not disappointed, competition always improves him. Even if we do work at home, it is not the same.

"I think if he had two or more races, he would have been nearer, but we don't regret it at all. He ran a good race and came back well. Everything is OK with him this morning."

Cirrus Des Aigles remains on course for a run in the Juddmonte International at York next month.

Andreas Wohler confirmed that he has the Grosser Preis von Baden in September in mind for Novellist, although jockey Johnny Murtagh cannot ride Europe's rising star in Germany.

Novellist handed Murtagh his 105th Group 1 victory at Ascot as he mixes being a big-race rider and a fledgling trainer, but under German rules, trainers are not allowed to ride.

William Buick, who has ridden Novellist twice, including in last year's Grosser Preis when finishing fourth to Danedream, is a possibility, as is Ryan Moore, who was first slated to ride Novellist on Saturday before climbing aboard Hillstar.

Cirrus Des Aigles was not the only horse to struggle on Ascot's quick going on Saturday. Very Nice Name trailed 21 lengths behind Novellist in his first start since finishing third to St Nicholas Abbey in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March. Olivier Peslier, the jockey, is convinced the Qatari challenger needed slower conditions.

"It was very fast for him and he had no action on it and he couldn't follow the pace," the Frenchman said.

The trainer Alban de Mieulle has not made any decisions about where Very Nice Name may race next but he did rule out his Purebred Arabian string from having any participation at the Dubai International Arabian race day at Newbury next month.

De Mieulle has around 10 thoroughbreds and the same number of Purebred Arabians housed at his Chantilly base.

Seven of those Purebred Arabians are three-year-olds and have been earmarked for a campaign in Qatar, while the three older horses will race in France.

"Qatar is the future for these horses," De Mieulle said. "Julian Smart will probably win everything at Newbury now."

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