10/17/2013 3:10PM

Ascot: Cirrus des Aigles targets second Champion Stakes win

Shigeki Kikkawa
Cirrus des Aigles, who won the Champion Stakes in 2011, will try to win the 1 1/4-mile race again after a runner-up effort in last year's running.

Autumn at Ascot seems to fit the veteran French gelding Cirrus des Aigles.

In 2011, Cirrus des Aigles won the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot, his first win at that level. Last year, he was second to the star Frankel.

Saturday, Cirrus des Aigles is back in the $2,093,000 Champion Stakes and will be a heavy favorite to win the race over 1 1/4 miles on turf. A 7-year-old gelding, Cirrus des Aigles will be after his third consecutive win, having won the Group 3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte on Sept. 20 and the Group 2 Prix Dollar at Longchamp on Oct. 5.

Those races are Cirrus des Aigles’s only wins in six starts this year. Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe was confident of Cirrus des Aigles’s chance in an interview with the British press earlier this week.

“You must always respect the opposition, but I think he might win,” she said. “He’s very well, just perfect. I think he’s on his way to the top.”

Cirrus des Aigles is part of a field of 10 in the Champion Stakes. His main competition is Farhh, unraced since winning the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, England, on May 18. Trainer Aidan O’Brien runs Ruler of The World, who was seventh behind Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 6. Ruler of the World won the Epsom Derby in June.

Mukhadram has run well at Ascot this year, having finished second to Al Kazeem in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes there in June.

The Champion Stakes is one of five major stakes on the British Champions Stakes Ascot program. The other major race of the day is the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Mile.

In the Group 1, $805,000 Fillies and Mares Stakes over 1 1/2 miles, the 3-year-old Talent can win for the first time since the Epsom Oaks on May 31.

Maarek, who won the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye over a straightaway five furlongs at Longchamp on Oct. 6, will be favored to win the Group 2, $563,500 Sprint Stakes over six furlongs. The race drew 14 runners, including Jack Dexter, who was third in the Ayr Gold Cup in Scotland on Sept. 21.

Estimate, owned by Queen Elizabeth, will be favored to win the Group 3, $322,000 Long Distance Cup over two miles. Estimate won the Ascot Gold Cup in June, her most recent race.