Click above to watch Cirrus des Aigles winning the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)…
(Image : Virendra Saklani/Gulf News - Footage : Dubai Racing Meydan)
US$5,000,000 DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC (Gr1)
Meydan, Turf, 2410m
31 March 2012
Not content with getting the better of So You Think (NZ) (High Chaparral) in the G1 Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, Cirrus des Aigles (Fr) (Even Top) was back on the big stage once again Saturday at Meydan to upstage another Ballydoyle star in St Nicholas Abbey (Ire) (Montjeu) and add the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic to his impressive resume.
Sitting close to a moderate early tempo in second, the 6-year-old was allowed to stride to the front with over a half mile remaining and had first run on last year’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf hero. That proved decisive as the line came in time for Cirrus des Aigles and first-time pilot Olivier Peslier, who were just a neck in front. “Cirrus des Aigles likes to fight,” trainer Corine Barande-Barbe commented. “If there is one in front, he wants to pass him and if one is behind it pushes him. He is a miracle. This was a big emotion and with him it always just gets better—it is just like a dream that doesn’t stop.”
One of France’s longstanding favorites, Cirrus des Aigles began his rags-to-riches tale in 2009 and ended that season with Longchamp’s G2 Prix du Conseil de Paris in the bag. Despite a subsequent fifth in the G1 Hong Kong Vase and a seasonal-best win in the G2 Prix Dollar in 2010, it was not until last term that the bay started to hit full stride. Each time he took on top-class opponents, it seemed to spur him on and seconds to Goldikova (Ire) (Anabaa) in the G1 Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp in May and to Sarafina (Fr) (Refuse To Bend) in the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud preceded a hat-trick of Pattern-race triumphs in the G3 Grand Prix de Vichy in July, the G3 Prix Gontaut-Biron at Deauville and that venue’s G2 Grand Prix de Deauville the following month. In the latter contest, he demonstrated his inherent stamina with a 10-length score on deep ground and his versatility on his next start when second in the G2 Prix Dollar over an extended nine-furlong trip on fast ground at Longchamp in October. After his rousing Champions’ Day coronation, the gelding was sent to Sha Tin for the third time and for the third time failed to hit the board when only fifth in the Hong Kong Cup. Upset by Zazou (Ger) (Shamardal) in a conditions race over 1 3/16mile on Chantilly’s new Polytrack surface on his comeback March 3, that effort was to look more creditable later in the afternoon as his conqueror ran a close-up fifth in the World Cup.
Breaking well from his wide stall, Cirrus des Aigles stuck close to Bold Silvano (SAf) (Silvano) as that rival stacked up rivals behind his slow tempo. Turning up the heat in early straight, the Gallic raider had four lengths on St Nicholas Abbey there and despite the game effort of his chief rival, there was an inevitability to the result as the line neared. Jakkalberry (Ire) (Storming Home) followed in third with Treasure Beach (GB) (Galileo) in fourth.
“There was no question about the trip, as he won in Deauville by 10 lengths last year and was second in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud,” Barande-Barbe said. “If they had gone quicker he would have finished better, but as there was no pace he had to do it on his own.” Peslier added, “They told me he was very tough and very competitive and he is.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News