Racing: Rival pulls out of Frankel contest

Tom Queally celebrates his victory on Frankel in the Queen Anne Stakes during day one of the 2012 Royal Ascot meeting. Photo / David Davies
Tom Queally celebrates his victory on Frankel in the Queen Anne Stakes during day one of the 2012 Royal Ascot meeting. Photo / David Davies

York's attempts to guarantee some meaningful opposition to Frankel in the Juddmonte International Stakes suffered a major blow this week, when trainer Corine Barande-Barbe admitted defeat in her race to get Cirrus Des Aigles fit for the contest on August 22.

"I've talked to the owners and it's just not going to be possible," she told the Racing Post from Chantilly, France, this week.

"It would have been something of a comeback and, against Frankel, there would be no point if he wasn't really ready. The horse is very well but it will come too soon."

Cirrus Des Aigles hasn't been seen in action since finishing second to Golden Lilac in the Prix d'Ispahan at the end of May.

A proposed run in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud a month later was scuppered when the triple group one winner suffered a minor leg injury.

The problem amounted to little more than a spot which became infected and had to be removed, the recovery from which has forced connections to miss, first, the King George at Ascot and now the showpiece of York's Ebor meeting.

With an RPR (Racing Post rating) of 139, Cirrus Des Aigles was the second-highest rated entry for the £725,000 ($1,399,000) event behind Frankel, having twice won at the highest level over the 2000m distance of the Juddmonte in the past 12 months.

His absence leaves Nathaniel as the next highest in the list, a full stone inferior to Khalid Abdullah's unbeaten 4-year-old on official figures.

Barande-Barbe wouldn't confirm that Cirrus Des Aigles will be ready for the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 8 but a meeting with Frankel would still be a possibility were both to take their chance in the Qipco Champions' Stakes at Ascot, which Cirrus Des Aigles won last October.

"Leopardstown is still a possibility, we'll have to see how his training goes," she said.

Henry Cecil's unbeaten superstar Frankel is due to step up to 10 furlongs for the International after having achieved all that is possible over a mile.

-AAP

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