Cirrus delights Barande-Barbe
French trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said Cirrus Des Aigles, who is again set to be ridden by Christophe Soumillon, is "just perfect" ahead of the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
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The seven-year-old gelding won the Champion Stakes two years ago before giving Frankel one of his sternest tests in the race 12 months ago.
Although he made a subdued start to the campaign, Cirrus Des Aigles responded with easy victories at Maisons-Laffitte and in the Prix Dollar at Longchamp on Arc weekend.
Barande-Barbe told The Guardian: "You must always respect the opposition, but I think he might win. He's very well, just perfect. I think he's on his way to the top.
"I had never doubted him, but you never know. He is getting a bit older but finally he is just the same as he was last year and the year before."
Hillstar finished three lengths in front of a below par Cirrus Des Aigles in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Sir Michael Stoute believes his colt's fondness for soft ground could stand him in good stead.
The Royal Ascot-winning three year old broke his maiden in a Leicester bog last October before going on to finish third in the Ascot Group One in July.
Hillstar, who was last seen finishing fourth in a fast-ground Juddmonte International Stakes at York, will be out to give Stoute a third triumph in the Champion Stakes.
The Newmarket handler told The Daily Telegraph: "I've been very happy with his work and we know he likes the ground. I feel he could well improve again with more juice in the ground. It was certainly quick enough for him in the King George."
David Lanigan is another trainer who believes that conditions will suit his charge after Main Sequence shaped well when third to Camborne on soft going at Newbury last month.
"He's in good order and appears to be in great form," said the Lambourn handler.
"The ground is a little bit of an unknown, but he seemed to handle it at Newbury the last day when it was good to soft.
"When you get into that autumn ground and there's a lot of rain forecast, you just don't know if they will handle it, but it's a good day's racing and we have to do everything we can to support it."