Awesome Cliffs scales new heights

Richard Hughes was poetry in motion as he brought star three-year-old miler Canford Cliffs through to snugly deny Rip Van Winkle back-to-back runnings of the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood today.

No sooner had trainer Richard Hannon registered his 50th winner at the meeting than his son-in-law provided him with the 51st in the Group One feature.

The Hannon family have dominated proceedings on the Sussex Downs this week and Canford Cliffs followed up his Irish 2000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes successes to gift them their fourth win.

The Classic generation have held sway since the Sussex became an all-aged event in 1975 and Canford Cliffs continued the trend with the 25th three-year-old win by obliging as the 4-6 favourite.

Hannon nominated the colt's free-running style as the reason for his defeat in the 2000 Guineas and Greenham.

But having taught him to settle, that energy has been harnessed into one of the world's most powerful turn of foots.

Hughes restrained the market leader early and moved closer as Rip Van Winkle took over from his pacemaking stablemate Encompassing inside the final two furlongs.

Aidan O'Brien's four-year-old charged into the clear air bidding to become the only consecutive winner of the race, but Hughes was alive to his move and brought Canford Cliffs through to challenge inside the distance.

A devastating burst of speed brought him upsides and as the partnership went a neck clear, Hughes was able to ease down for a sweet victory.

"He is the best I have trained and I hope to God that he stays in training next year," said Hannon.

"He is a great horse and always has been. He got some stick about not staying but he just needed to settle.

"He has a lovely turn of foot and Paco Boy was in the same position as him last year but could not pick up and go by Rip Van Winkle.

"The way he has improved has been unreal. Richard rode him in work the other morning and said he had come on 7lb from Ascot.

"The QEII and the Jacques le Marios are obvious races, but if we can get a deal done with a stud for them to allow us to race him next year I will be happy to finish him now for the season as he has won three Group Ones.

"If we can keep him then I think he will be an awesome horse next year."

Hughes added: "Rip Van Winkle kicked and went three lengths up and we still nearly won on the bridle.

"He is just so talented at whatever he does and nothing can live with him at home.

"I rode him the other day and said he has improved out of all knowledge.

"He actually ran a bit rusty there and never got into full flight."

Hannon ruled out going beyond a mile with Canford Cliffs, something which O'Brien is keen to try again with runner-up Rip Van Winkle.

He said: "He was a bit further back than we wanted him to be for Ascot and obviously we hoped that he would progress for it, and there was lovely progression there.

"This year we decided to go steady early and progress as the year went on as last year his form tailed off a little as he had a tough early part of the season so we've decided to go gently.

"He could run over a mile, 10 furlongs or even 12 - all those race are open to him as he's very versatile."

Premio Loco was added to the field for £19,500 after his recent Group Two win at Ascot and recouped that fee and more by finishing a little over three lengths adrift in third.

His trainer Chris Wall said: "He's been placed again and beaten by two very good horses.

"It was worth the run - the owner has got his money back with interest for adding the horse to the race, and Dream Eater looked to be as far behind him as he was at Ascot last time so he has run to form.

"It's very hard to win a Group One and it was either this or wait for the QEII, but the ground might have gone then.

"He probably needs a short break, then he has options in Germany or maybe to come back here for the Celebration Mile."

More in this Section

Manchester United cruise past Tranmere in FA Cup fourth roundManchester United cruise past Tranmere in FA Cup fourth round

Padráic Joyce's Galway lead from start to finish to edge out MonaghanPadráic Joyce's Galway lead from start to finish to edge out Monaghan

Mayo put on impressive display against DonegalMayo put on impressive display against Donegal

Darren McCurry and returning Mark Bradley inspire Tyrone to victory over MeathDarren McCurry and returning Mark Bradley inspire Tyrone to victory over Meath


Orlagh Kelly owns The Reading Room bookshop on Main Street in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim.We sell books: The Reading Room - ‘Small bookshops, curated by people who care, make a difference’

As Stockton’s Wing release a retrospective album, Mike Hanrahan tells Donal O’Keeffe about getting back on the road, and his love of cookingStill a beautiful affair: Mike Hanrahan talks about getting back on the road with Stockton's Wing

An ongoing cull is resulting in a major reduction in the deer population in one of the country’s most visited natural attractions.Donal Hickey: Deer birth patterns evolving

A Courtmacsherry neighbour, Kathy Gannon tells me that when the tide is out, the vast acres of clean, grey mud of the bay reflect the sun in splendour in the clear, sharp air.Damien Enright: ‘How enchanting for humanity that we have birds’

More From The Irish Examiner