Cirrus Des Aigles to miss clash with Frankel in York’s International
• French horse runs out of time after ankle injury
• Trainer called in police to investigate positive test
- guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 August 2012 18.20 BST
Frankel‘s potential opposition in his first venture over further than a mile has been weakened by the news that Cirrus Des Aigles is set to miss York’s Juddmonte International Stakes on 22 August. The Champion Stakes winner has not recovered sufficiently quickly from an ankle injury to make the line-up at York and will instead reappear next month in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
However a clash with Frankel could still be on the cards, as his trainer, Corine Barande-Barbe, is considering a return to Ascot for the Champion Stakes on 20 October.
“The cut he sustained to his ankle was a very deep one which quickly became infected and the wound took longer to heal than I had hoped,” she said on Tuesday. “I kept him walking every day but I didn’t want him to gallop on the sand while he was still recovering and, although he is working again now, there won’t be enough time to get him ready for York.
“It is a great shame, as I was looking forward to running him there, but there are other races for him and I will now try to get him ready for Leopardstown. After that, there is Ascot, or I may look for a race at Longchamp on Arc weekend. He has recovered well from the injury and I have no doubt that he will come back as good as ever but we have just run out of time.”
Meanwhile, the investigation into a positive test for a banned anti-inflammatory, given by the horse after he was second in the Prix d’Ispahan in May, rumbles on without any sign of an imminent conclusion. Barande-Barbe has denied any wrongdoing throughout the process and revealed that French police have recently visited her yard after she made a formal complaint as to how the positive test had arisen, alleging either contamination or malpractice during the sampling and testing process.
“The police talked to everyone that was with the horse that day and now I believe they are dealing with France-Galop,” she said, referring to the ruling body of French racing. “I have heard nothing more. I still haven’t even seen the test myself but I am told it was such a massive result that it must have been given to him on the day or maybe even after the race. Maybe the sample wasn’t even from Cirrus des Aigles, I don’t know.
“But France-Galop must know that the result just doesn’t make any sense. Why would anyone give a horse such a massive dose of anything? I had organised cameras here at the stables, but not at the races and that must be where something happened. The first thing will be to verify that the sample actually came from the horse, but what happens next I don’t know.”
France-Galop did not respond on Tuesday to requests for comment but has previously affirmed its confidence in the testing system.
In the meantime, Cirrus Des Aigles is free to continue racing. “I just want it to finish, because I am sure that we did nothing wrong,” said the trainer. “You can only guess how it long it will take, though.”
Opposition to Frankel at York could now be headed by the Eclipse winner, Nathaniel, who was narrowly denied by Danedream in the King George at Ascot last month, although his trainer, John Gosden, was overseas on Tuesday and no decision is expected to be taken over the four-year-old’s participation until nearer the raceday.
Aidan O’Brien still has the unbeaten Derby winner Camelot entered in the contest, although the likes of St Nicholas Abbey and Imperial Monarch are more likely candidates. One confirmed runner is the Marco Botti-trained Planteur, a late withdrawal from a Group Two at York last month when the ground was deemed unsuitably quick.
“It was a shame, as it looked a good opportunity for him and it was the right race, but we didn’t want to take a risk,” said Botti. “The intention has always been to run him in the Juddmonte International. He will run wherever the ground is right and obviously we are going to meet Frankel if we go to York, but if we think the ground is too fast again, he has the option of the Irish Champion Stakes.”
Richard Hughes may shortly hit the front for the first time in this season’s jockeys’ championship after four winners from six rides at Bath saw him close the gap on Ryan Moore to three.
Moore, who has already made it clear that regaining the title does not figure prominently among his priorities, is enjoying a couple of days off and will not return to the saddle until Thursday evening at Sandown.
In contrast, Hughes has a number of rides on Wednesday at Brighton and Kempton and surely won’t be long in bridging the gap to his rival