By Bob Kieckhefer
Cirrus des Aigles, likely favorite for the Dec. 9 Longines Hong Kong Cup (HK-I), has been withdrawn from the race at Sha Tin Racecourse due to a tendon issue.
The French-based horse, currently the world's top-rated horse in training, was found to have a problem with a tendon in his left front leg. His trainer, Corine Barande-Barbe, did not immediately discuss the severity of the issue or Cirrus des Aigles' future plans.
Cirrus des Aigles was drawn nicely in the middle of the field for the Cup and his absence essentially throws the race wide open. Local favorite California Memory and two other French raiders—Saonois and the filly Giofra—would appear to have improved their fortunes for the 2,000-meter (1 1/4 miles) test.
Cirrus des Aigles, a 6-year-old Even Top gelding, has blossomed since finishing fifth in last year's Cup, with group I wins in Dubai and France. In his last start, he but pressed the now retired and undefeated champion Frankel before succumbing to finish second in the Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot.