Canford Cliffs v Frankel “Duel on the downs”


Canford Cliffs (Tagula) was in good form at Richard Hannon’s Herridge yard in Wiltshire last Tuesday morning and it is all systems go for his battle with the unbeaten three-yearold Frankel (Galileo) in the Gr.1 Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this week.

The world’s top milers meet next Wednesday, 27th July, the second day of Glorious Goodwood, in a clash described as the “Duel on the Downs”. Hannon said: “It is going to be a hell of a race, no doubt about it, but remember that Canford Cliffs and Frankel are not the only horses in the race. Unfortunately, one of them will be beaten. I don’t know who is going to win. It will be
very interesting to see what happens. Frankel is the best horse in the world and if Canford Cliffs beats him then he takes that position. If there are any weaknesses in Canford Cliffs, I haven’t found them. Once Richard [Hughes] had Canford Cliffs settled as a three-year-old, it all happened from there. He is probably at his peak now. He is a strong horse and going well. “In a small field, you just wonder where the pace will come from but whatever Richard does in the race is OK with me – he is a top-class jockey. Richard knows the horse better than anybody else. “Canford Cliffs was never a tearaway, but you take a horse from being a two-year-old to a three-year-old and from six furlongs to a mile. You have taught him to do one thing as a two-year-old and then you have to teach him something else, wanting him to settle as a three-year-old. We taught him to go quick as a two-year-old and so, early on as a three-year-old, he thought he was doing
everything right. Richard has done a hell of a job on him, teaching him to settle. The only thing that would worry me is that last year he did not like coming down the hill at Goodwood particularly well, but he is a year older now and a more mature horse, so I don’t think it will be a problem.” Hughes, Hannon’s son-in-law and stable jockey, has been very careful not to incur a suspension, which would cause him to miss the ride next week. He commented: “All my life I have looked for a horse like Canford Cliffs and I was not going to miss the ride on him – I won’t get another chance. I cannot wait for the Sussex Stakes. I am looking forward to it just as much as the race against Goldikova at Royal Ascot – we got that job done. Canford Cliffs is the best I have ever ridden – I
have ridden some good horses in my career but the first time I sat on this lad, I had never ridden anything like him. “I think Frankel is a brilliant three-year-old – no doubt. I don’t think the three-year-olds are brilliant as a whole but he is probably one of the best three-year-olds we have seen for a long time, which is why he has stood out. The good thing is my lad is easy and I imagine, with only a few runners, there won’t be much pace at Goodwood, which means Frankel will run free. I would not be surprised if Tom made the running on Frankel with only four or so runners – if he drops in, we won’t go fast. The start is downhill as well. “Frankel settled very well at Ascot when we were going a million up the hill – I was on Dubawi Gold, sitting second, and I could not have gone an inch faster, off the bridle. That is why Frankel settled so well at Ascot but, if he was going slow, then he would be keen. If we go slow, he will be free. Canford Cliffs looks better than ever. I think he is a little bit like Sea The Stars – he will just do what he has to do. He will go by whatever is in front of him. No matter what you follow, he will go by it – you feel he will go by anything. He travelled so easy at Royal Ascot. “He won a maiden on soft ground – I think he would cope with that ground – most champions do. You would like to think that both horses are healthy on the day and there are no excuses – head to head at the furlong pole would be nice to see and then the best horse will win.”

Canford Cliffs is going for a Sussex Stakes double,having won the Gr.1 race last year when Hannon and Hughes combined to have nine winners each during Glorious Goodwood, a record number for a trainer and a jockey. Hughes added: “I love the track at Goodwood but I doubt I can get nine again this year – the boss told me last year it should have been ten – I was beat a head in a maiden. We have a few nice ones lined up but the domination of the two-year-old races last year will probably never happen again; I think we won them all, but you never know.

We like to keep a few nice maidens for Goodwood – if you send an ordinary horse, they are not
going to win at Glorious Goodwood. It is good prize money at Goodwood and the owners love it.”
Before the racing media descended on Richard Hannon’s stable last Tuesday, Qipco Sussex Stakes favourite Frankel had pleased his trainer and jockey in his final serious workout before the big race.

Guineas winner Frankel just shades Canford Cliffs at the head of the market, with the majority of firms offering evens or 11-10 about Khalid Abdullah’s superstar, although Coral and Stan James are odds-on at 4-5 and 5-6. Frankel, who will tackle older horses and Goodwood for the first time next week, worked with stablemate Bullet Train over a mile on the Limekilns round gallop in Newmarket at 6.15am. He stretched ten lengths clear and looked in top form.
Trainer Henry Cecil said: “I’m pleased with that. He’ll have another easy piece of work on Friday or Saturday, and that’ll do him.” Jockey Tom Queally was similarly impressed and said: “He gave me a good feel. He settled beautifully and is growing up all the time.”


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