Cirrus Des Aigles will be having his fifth race start in Hong Kong when he contests the 2014 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin next Sunday and trainer Corine Barande-Barbe does not believe that the veteran gelding has ever gone into the race in better form.
Cirrus Des Aigles made his debut in Hong Kong when he finished a close fifth behind Daryakana in the 2009 Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) and was slightly disappointing when seventh in the 2010 Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
The Even Top gelding had no luck when fifth in the 2011 Hong Kong Cup and after missing the meeting in 2012, produced his best performance when third behind Akeed Mofeed in the same race last year.
Barande-Barbe said that he is delighted with the condition of Cirrus Des Aigles heading into the 2014 Hong Kong Cup and he believes that the eight-year-old has had an ideal preparation for the Group 1 event that will be held next weekend.
“Honestly, I think that he’s never gone to Hong Kong in such good spirits and state of fitness, everything has ideally fallen in its place,” Barande-Barbe told Sky Sports.
“It is true that Cirrus has got an edge when there is some cut in the ground. but we know we will not get such a surface in Hong Kong, a perfectly drained and maintained course.
“The horse has done well on various courses now, as he’s proven at Epsom and even early this year at Longchamp, when the ground wasn’t as soft as it would be in the autumn.
“I am really looking forward to seeing him at his peak over there.”
Cirrus Des Aigles started his 2014 racing season with a disappointing fourth place finish at Chantilly on March 4, but he returned to his best form when he finished second behind champion Japanese mare Gentildonna in the Group 1 Sheema Classic (2410m) at Meydan on March 29.
The popular gelding scored an upset win over the previously undefeated Treve in the Group 1 Prix Ganay (2100m) at Longchamp on April 27 and made it three wins on the trot when he took out the Group 1 Prix D’Ispahan (1850m) at the same venue on May 25 and the Group 1 Coronation Cup (2423m) at Epsom Downs on June 7.
Cirrus Des Aigles returned to racing with a flat fifth in the Group 2 Prix Dollar (1950) at Longchamp on October 4 and was not particularly impressive in the Group 1 Champion Stakes (2011m) at Ascot on October 18, but Barande-Barbe believes his star galloper had excuses for both performances and can return to his best form in the Hong Kong Cup.
“Cirrus came back very well from Ascot and it has been the plan to go to Hong Kong ever since,” Barande-Barbe said.
“At Ascot, in the Champion Stakes, I think he had not completely recovered from his comeback.
“We did not have enough time between the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend and the race at Ascot after such a long lay-off.
“His comeback was a bit messy, stressful to say the least and it wasn’t enough to get ready for Ascot but he surely is ready now.”
Cirrus Des Aigles is currently available at 2014 Hong Kong Cup odds of $9, while Designs On Rome ($4) remains a narrow favourite from Military Attack ($4.60), Blazing Speed ($7) and Farraaj ($7.50) with Ladbrokes Australia.