/ Racing

Cirrus Des Aigles edges out Treve in unforgettable Prix Ganay

Updated: Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 18:41 | Comments

The remarkable Cirrus Des Aigles (far side) is still operating at the peak of his powers after 56 lifetime starts at the age of eight
The remarkable Cirrus Des Aigles (far side) is still operating at the peak of his powers after 56 lifetime starts at the age of eight

Cirrus Des Aigles inflicted a first ever defeat on Treve in a thrilling renewal of the Prix Ganay at Longchamp this afternoon.

The two market principals fought out a tremendous finish in the final furlong and though Treve got her head in front, Cirrus Des Aigles rallied in the final strides to reel in the highest-rated horse in training for trainer Corine Barande-Barbe and jockey Christophe Soumillon.

The first two drew clear of Norse King in third.

Frankie Dettori tried to hold Treve up at the rear of the field, but the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine got no cover on the outside.

After Belle De Crecy weakened early in the straight, Ed Dunlop's Joshua Tree made a brief bid for glory but he soon faded as Cirrus Des Aigles and the Criquette Head-trained Treve took over.

It looked as though Treve's was getting the better of the sustained duel, but the indomitable Cirrus Des Aigles, with the benefit of two runs already this year, prevailed by a short neck.

Criquette Head-Maarek felt the ground might have gone against her charge and she remains confident of avenging the defeat should the pair clash again this term.

She said: "Maybe there was too much rain, it was sticky out there and we had too much ground to make up. It was a very good run but the only thing I will say is that my pacemaker (Belle De Crecy) went too fast.

"The winner had had two races already and the fitness was there.

"If she comes out of it well, in principal we will be going to Royal Ascot. We might have lost a battle, but we haven't lost a war.

"She is brave but the other horse is stronger with those two runs this year and he loves that ground. She ran a great race but he was fitter than we were.

"In the rematch, I'm sure we can get it back. She took the lead but in the end he's come back at us - that's racing. Horses are not unbeatable, that is for certain."

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owner Sheikh Joaan al Thani's Al Shaqab Racing, insists the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June remains very much on the agenda.

He said: "It's frustrating in that she went to the front and you could see it was going to be a battle. The winner's form was very strong and he was always going to be a big danger.

"The fitness deal with your first run on this ground means so much and on this going she doesn't have that zippity-zip.

"It's all very much to play for in the bigger picture and we will be heading to Royal Ascot as planned."

Barande-Barbe felt the early pace had suited Cirrus Des Aigles and is now eyeing a trip to Epsom for the Investec Coronation Cup on 7 June.

She said: "I'm very proud of what he did today - he never was better. I thought the strong pace helped us and it was obviously one of his finest moments.

"On reflection, if the there had been a stronger pace in the race against Frankel (2012 Champion Stakes at Ascot), we might have made that a bit more interesting but now all roads will lead to the Coronation Cup."

Soumillon hailed Cirrus Des Aigles as "perfect" and believes the gelding had shown his best form.

He said: "I'm very, very happy. Although it's the first Group One of the season, it's not the biggest race but then again, the match was built up like a big game and my horse was perfect.

"He had his track, his ground and two races under his belt - it made sure he would operate to the maximum - but this is really something extraordinary for racing.

"It's what we love in European sport - horses so closely matched and fighting it out together. He is probably on his top level of form and to beat Treve, he had to be there."

Soumillon had earlier earned another hard-fought victory as Vazira kept her unbeaten record intact in the Prix Vanteaux.

Alain de Royer-Dupre's Aga Khan-owned filly was an 8-11 favourite for the Group Three prize having made a winning debut at Chantilly at the end of March.

Odds-on backers were made to sweat as Soumillon was riding along vigorously over a furlong down, but his mount responded well to fend off the challenge of Kenzadargent.

Vazira, a daughter of Sea The Stars, holds entries in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

The Andre Fabre-trained Montclair claimed the glory in the other Group Three prize of the afternoon, landing the Prix de Barbeville from Terrubi.

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