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Everybody loves an underdog. That’s why Cirrus Des Aigles’ trip to Hong Kong as a viable contender for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase on 13 December is gaining traction in his native France.
It’s the story of a horse that made his unheralded debut as a two-year-old last October. After almost continuous racing - 20 starts - in the interim, the tough-as-teak gelding arrives in Hong Kong this weekend to bolster a typically strong French challenge for the Vase. For her part, Corine Barande-Barbe cannot wait to travel to Sha Tin with “the most professional horse” she has trained, one that has won six times and never been out of the first three since that first ever run.
Cirrus Des Aigles is as versatile as he is consistent. He has won on turf and synthetic surfaces from 1600 to 2400 metres, clockwise and anti-clockwise, on heavy and fast ground, on ten different racecourses, from provincial maidens to an easy win in Longchamp’s “Little Arc”, the Prix du Conseil de Paris last time out on 18 October.
The latter race is also very interesting in the context of Hong Kong. Two winners of the Prix du Conseil de Paris this decade have gone onto CXHK Vase success - AngeGabriel and ValleeEnchantee are among seven French wins from 15 editions of this race.
Another, Pride, won the CXHK Cup in 2006 and last year Purple Moon ran second in Paris en route to being touched off by Doctor Dino in the Vase.
“He’s been around for one full year and never had a break but his best race surely was his last in the Prix du Conseil de Paris,” said Barande-Barbe, who saddled the 1995 French Oaks-winner, Carling, another rags-to-riches story.
“But that’s the thing with ‘Cirrus’ - his best race is always his last. He seems to thrive and improve from every run. I gave him a three weeks break after his last win but he’s happier since he came back in training.” Barande-Barbe has paid much attention to how Cirrus Des Aigles will ship to Hong Kong and he will travel with his lass and two regular riders.
“I think that travelling such a long way is not as much of a problem when the horses are reassured by travel companions they know. He’s been all over France without any problem. For now, the horse is in great form and we are very excited about Hong Kong,” Barande-Barbe added.
Published: 2009-12-03 13:38:51
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