Cirrus des Aigles Bids for Group I Hat Trick
French star Cirrus des Aigles, the highest-rated European horse in training, will bid for a third successive top-level victory this season in the Investec Coronation Cup (In Commemoration of St Nicholas Abbey, Eng-I) at Epsom Downs June 7.
The 1 1/2-mile race will be run in memory of St Nicholas Abbey, an unprecedented three-time Coronation Cup winner (2011-13). The son of Montjeu made his final racecourse appearance in the 2013 Coronation Cup and died about six months later due to complications from colic.
Cirrus des Aigles defeated St Nicholas Abbey by a neck in the thrilling edition of the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) in 2012.
An 8-year-old Even Top gelding, Cirrus des Aigles comes in having defeated a pair of leading lights in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) winner Treve in the Prix Ganay (Fr-I) April 27 and 2014 JLT Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I) victor Olympic Glory in the Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-I) May 25, both at Longchamp.
Cirrus des Aigles has had 57 career starts, including nine on all-weather surfaces, compiling a 20-20-6 record that includes five group I races and earnings of more than $8.9 million. He is the 4-5 favorite with most bookmakers.
Trainer Ralph Beckett will send out Talent, a New Approach filly seeking her first win since capturing the 2013 Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I). She was the runner-up in the St. Leger (Eng-I) in September at Doncaster and third in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes (Eng-I) in October at Ascot to cap the season and makes her first start of the year in the Coronation Cup.
French trainer Andre Fabre has won the Coronation Cup six times and will send out Khalid Abdullah's Flintshire (7-2), a son of Dansili who notched his biggest victory in the 2013 Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I).
Two other group I winners are entered. Trainer Roger Varien has Ambivalent (14-1), an Authorized mare who won last season's Pretty Polly Stakes; and trainer Ed Dunlop has globetrotting Joshua Tree (25-1, by Montjeu), successful three times in the Pattison Canadian International (Can-I) at Woodbine.
German-based trainer Peter Schiergen won the 2002 Coronation Cup with Boreal and is set to run Empoli (10-1, by Halling), who most recently was fourth in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at Meydan in March.
The field is complete by Battalion (25-1), a stakes-placed son of Authorized trained by William Haggas, and Beacon Lady (66-1), a 5-year-old Haafhd mare who has two wins over the course and distance, including in the Great Metropolitan Handicap April 23, for trainer W. J. Knight.
Coronation Cup (In Commemoration of St. Nicholas Abbey, Eng-I), 4yo & Up, 1 1/2 miles, turf
No. PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. 2. Battalion, S. Sousa, 126, W. Haggas
2. 7. Cirrus des Aigles, C. Soumillon, 126, C. Barande-Barbe
3. 1. Empoli, A. De Vries, 126, P. Schiergen
4. 5. Flintshire, M. Guyon, 126, A. Fabre
5. 4. Joshua Tree, Ryan Moore, 126, E. Dunlop
6. 6. Ambivalent, A. Atzeni, 123, R. Varian
7. 3. Beacon Lady, O. Murphy, 123, W. J. Knight
8. 8. Talent, J. Crowley, 123, R. Beckett
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