Cirrus des Aigles wasn’t seen as much of a contender in comparison to the rest of the field in the QIPCO Champions Stakes (I), the climax race of Champions Day at Ascot, but boy did this gelding fire when it counted.
Breaking cleanly from the gate, Cirrus des Aigles shuffled back from contention early, but managed to turn it on full blast turning for home to pass leaders Nathaniel and Ransom Note. Dueling head-to-head with favorite So You Think, who sat just behind the leaders, all the way down to the wire, the five-year-old gelding edged the multi-G1 winner to take the $2 million-plus race while scoring a major upset and breaking the track record for 10 furlongs (2:02.52).
While the result was stunning, what was even more unbelievable was the aftermath of it all: Cirrus’s jockey Christophe Soumillon was the latest victim of Britain’s whip reform, as he used the stick on the gelding six times in the final furlong. The current limit is seven times total in a race, but no more than five times in the final furlong— which many jockeys argue is frequently the only time they really utilize the whip.
No doubt, the dark cloud of controversy dampened the Champions meet quite a bit and will probably affect current racing reform in Britain concerning the whip.
Third place in the Arc, Snow Fairy repeated for a very close third again in the race after being trapped on the rail.