Cirrus Des Aigles takes aim at Hong Kong International Races
This file photo shows jockey Olivier Peslier leading Cirrus des Aigles to win the Dubai Sheema Classic race during the Dubai World Cup, at the Meydan race track in the Gulf emirate, on March 31, 2012
The seven-year-old, the world's top racehorse a year ago, will make his fifth attempt at glory at the $9.3 million Hong Kong International Races.
Japanese sprint star Lord Kanaloa will make his final appearance before retirement and British trainer Richard Hannon will oversee his last race when Sky Lantern runs the Mile.
Cirrus Des Aigles has failed three times in Hong Kong in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and last year he was forced to pull out of the Cup race with a late injury.
The gelding took time to regain his sparkle this year but he resumed winning ways in September and handsomely won the Prix Dollar at Longchamp on October 5.
Jockey Christophe Soumillon said Cirrus Des Aigles seemed to be in hot form, although Hong Kong's Military Attack is the Cup favourite on his home track of Sha Tin.
"I was just about to get him ready to go when he simply pulled off. There was nothing I could do about it so off we went," Soumillon said.
"He’s really raring to go and it is a very good omen."
Lord Kanaloa will take on Hong Kong's Lucky Nine in the Sprint as the five-year-old aims to close his career with his seventh win in eight races since September 2012.
However, the Japanese horse of the year has received an unkind draw of barrier 12, meaning the odds are against a successful defence of the race he won last year.
"I understand the quality of the sprint race and the sprinters here in Hong Kong, and it is not easy to win a race like this," said training assistant Shogo Yasuda.
"But the owner told us, after the Sprinters Stakes, that he would like to target Hong Kong as Lord Kanaloa's final run and he is here in good shape."
British favourite The Fugue will compete with 2011 Melbourne Cup-winner Dunaden in the Vase. In the Mile, Hannon's Sky Lantern has been drawn outside favoured French mare Moonlight Cloud.
The event features four races on a turf track -- the 2,400-metre Vase, the 1,200-metre Sprint, the 1,600-metre Hong Kong Mile and the 2,000-metre Hong Kong Cup.
The annual event is one of the world's richest meetings, with its purse putting it in the company of America's Triple Crown, the Dubai Racing Cup and Britain's Royal Ascot.
Crowds of about 70,000 are expected at the mountain-fringed Sha Tin Racecourse with popular singer and actor Aaron Kwok among the celebrity guests.
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