Cliffs peaking for Curragh bid

Richard Hannon has high hopes Canford Cliffs can give him a third Irish 2000 Guineas success at the Curragh on Saturday.

Richard Hannon has high hopes Canford Cliffs can give him a third Irish 2000 Guineas success at the Curragh on Saturday.

The Everleigh maestro has plundered the Classic, now sponsored by Abu Dhabi, with Don't Forget Me (1987) and Tirol (1990).

While those two also landed the Newmarket equivalent, Canford Cliffs finished third to Makfi.

"Canford Cliffs has been fine since Newmarket, and we hope that he will show everyone in Ireland what a good horse he is really is," he said.

"We know what he can do on the gallops, and Royal Ascot racegoers saw for themselves in last year's Coventry.

"But you want them to do it again in their Classic season, and, though things did not go to script at Newbury (in the Greenham) or Newmarket, he is in great nick and we can't wait for the race.

"They tell me that the Brits have won six of the last 10 runnings, I hope it will be seven from 11 after Saturday, and that our fellow is the one bringing home the trophy.

"We think Canford Cliffs is a star, and let's hope he can prove it," the Wiltshire handler told his website, www.richardhannonracing.tv.

Xtension's trainer Clive Cox believes his horse will be suited by the course after finishing fourth at Newmarket.

"I'm pleased we've not got the benefit of a run under our belts now," said the Lambourn trainer.

"The ground in Ireland looks as if it's going to be good at the moment with a warmer forecast as well, so we are looking forward to travelling over.

"We've been very happy with him all the way through. He had trained really well prior to the English Guineas.

"It's going to be a very hot race as you'd expect for a Group One.

"We've got every race covered with him and our next step is the most important one at the moment and we'll take it from there," Cox told At The Races.

The three other possible British challengers after 20 horses stood their ground at the latest forfeit stage are Ralph Beckett's Oasis Dancer and the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained pair of Morana and Zaahy.

Aidan O'Brien has left in nine as he seeks a seventh success in the colts' Classic.

His team consists of Steinbeck, Jan Vermeer, Fencing Master, Air Chief Marshal, Dynasty, Encompassing, Fighting Brave, Purple Heart and Viscount Nelson.

Steinbeck, fourth in the Dewhurst in the autumn, is 2-1 favourite with Ladbrokes, who report plenty of support for stablemate Fencing Master, who was second that day.

Hayley O'Connor of Ladbrokes said: "Steinbeck heads our 2000 Guineas market at 2-1. He's a lightly raced quality horse, just like his sire, Footstepsinthesand, who won the English 2000 Guineas on his third start and his Dewhurst performance showed he too could have Classic potential.

"With Ballydoyle connections making it no secret that this has been the target all along, he's got to be respected.

"But, interestingly, it has been his stablemate, Fencing Master, who has captured the punter's interest, backed into 5-1 from 8-1 earlier today."

Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas betting:

Ladbrokes: 2-1 Steinbeck, 3-1 Canford Cliffs, 5-1 Fencing Master, Xtension, 6-1 Keredari, 7-1 Noll Wallop, 12-1 Jan Vermeer, 16-1 Viscount Nelson, Dynasty, Free Judgement, 25-1 bar.

Paddy Power: 11-4 Steinbeck, 3-1 Canford Cliffs, 5-1 Fencing Master, 6-1 Xtension, 10-1 Jan Vermeer, Keredari, Noll Wallop, 20-1 bar.

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