/ Racing

Cirrus Des Aigles heads King George field

Updated: Thursday, 25 Jul 2013 11:28 | Comments

Cirrus Des Aigles (right) looks set to be the favourite for the King George stakes
Cirrus Des Aigles (right) looks set to be the favourite for the King George stakes

French ace Cirrus Des Aigles heads a field of eight declared for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Corine Barande-Barbe's seven-year-old bids to become the oldest horse to lift the midsummer highlight.

The three-times Group One winner is likely to go off a short-priced favourite after St Nicholas Abbey, who had been the ante-post market leader, suffered a life-threatening injury on Tuesday.

There is another French raider in Very Nice Name, trained by Alban de Mieulle, who was third to St Nicholas Abbey in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.

Germany is represented by Andreas Wohler's Novellist, winner of last month's Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in which Cirrus De Aigles was fifth on his comeback from injury.

Irish Derby hero Trading Leather, from Jim Bolger's stable, is the sole representative from the Emerald Isle after St Nicholas Abbey's trainer Aidan O'Brien withdrew his two other entries, Chamonix and Ernest Hemingway, at Thursday's final declaration stage.

The other three-year-old in the line-up is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Hillstar after the King Edward VII Stakes winner was supplemented at Monday's confirmation stage at a cost of #75,000.

Completing the line-up are Ed Dunlop's globetrotter Red Cadeaux, Mark Johnston's admirable performer Universal and the Roger Varian-trained Ektihaam, whose jockey Dane O'Neill believes the four-year-old has "very strong" claims.

Ektihaam won the Buckhounds Stakes over course and distance in good style on his penultimate start, before it all went wrong at Royal Ascot.

Ektihaam slipped up on the bend seven furlongs from home in the Hardwicke Stakes and unseated Paul Hanagan.

With Hanagan, who is first-choice rider for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, having instead opted to travel to York to partner Mukhadram in the Sky Bet York Stakes, O'Neill gets the chance to shine in the midsummer highlight of the Flat season.

He told the Telegraph: "My reading of it is that his credentials are very strong.

"Obviously it was very early in the Hardwicke, but it leads you to believe he would have taken the beating."

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