Moment of truth for Goldikova

FREDDIE HEAD knows his outstanding mare Goldikova will have to be at her very best if she is to overcome Canford Cliffs in a mouthwatering Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot today.

The one-mile contest gets a fantastic five days of action under way and is widely regarded as potentially the race of the entire week.

Thirteen-time Group One winner Goldikova recorded a narrow triumph over Paco Boy 12 months ago, a former stablemate of Richard Hannon’s Canford Cliffs, and her trainer is confident she remains at the peak of her powers.

“She arrived this morning and she has travelled very well. I’m very happy with her,” said Head.

“I think she is just as well as she was this time last year and, obviously, she is going to have to be at her very best to win.

“Having said that, Canford Cliffs is going to have to be at his very best to beat us.

“It is a clash of course, but it is difficult to say whether this is Goldikova’s hardest ever task. We will find out.

“The only worry would be the ground. I hope it does not become too soft.

“I couldn’t be happier with the mare and it should be a very good race. It is great for racing.”

Hannon is full of respect for his opponent but is confident last month's Lockinge winner Canford Cliffs can emerge triumphant.

“Canford Cliffs is the big one, not just on the first day but of the whole week, and his preparation for the Queen Anne could not have gone any better,” the trainer told his website, www.richardhannonracing.tv.

“He has looked better than ever this season and has improved since the Lockinge. He was entitled to be a bit rusty at Newbury as he had been off since Glorious Goodwood last year.

“While he can sometimes be a bit switched off in the mornings, Hughesie (Richard Hughes) woke him up on the gallops last week and they then went to Kempton, where he looked really sharp.

“We are under no illusions how tough it will be to beat Goldikova, who is a 13-time Grade/Group One winner, but the French mare cannot possibly be getting any better at the age of six, and we will sit a bit closer to the pace and hope to do her for finishing speed, like we did Rip Van Winkle at Goodwood last year.”

Third in the betting is Aidan O’Brien’s dual Group One winner Cape Blanco, who drops to a mile having been beaten into fourth in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp on his latest racecourse appearance.

His jockey, Jamie Spencer, said: “He’s a high-class horse – he’s won an Irish Derby and an Irish Champion Stakes

“He’s got top-class form and has had a couple of runs this season.

“He won three races, including Group races, over seven furlongs as a two-year-old.

“It’s a tough race with Canford Cliffs and Goldikova and others, but we’ll just see.”

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