O'Brien upbeat on Steinbeck bid

Aidan O'Brien hopes Steinbeck has progressed enough to give Canford Cliffs a race in tomorrow's St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O'Brien hopes Steinbeck has progressed enough to give Canford Cliffs a race in tomorrow's St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Always held in high regard at Ballydoyle, the Footstepsinthesand colt was beaten just half a length in last season's Dewhurst on only his second start.

It was apparently a rush to get him ready for the Irish 2000 Guineas but he ran a promising race to finish fourth to Canford Cliffs.

"You always hope you can turn the tables on a horse," said O'Brien.

"The Curragh was his first run back, he ran a lovely race, got a little tired and then stayed on at the finish.

"You always hope that they progress well after their first run and we hope that he has.

"He's been in very good form. He looks a tighter horse than he did then and he wasn't stopping at the Curragh, he just got shuffled back a little bit.

"He was just in a nice rhythm when he went for the same gap as Canford Cliffs, so he just had to wait for a second. He maybe lost a little bit of ground but stayed on well when he got back into top gear," he told At The Races.

Canford Cliffs finally lived up to his connections' expectations at the Curragh having finished only third in the Newmarket Guineas and trainer Richard Hannon is confident of another bold showing.

The East Everleigh handler said: "He has improved physically since our Guineas and now looks tremendous.

"He was too keen in the Greenham and again at Newmarket, but he was awesome when he finally got a proper pace in Ireland and while we are certainly not underestimating Makfi, who is lightly raced and can only improve, we have also gone forward as you saw at the Curragh."

Jockey Richard Hughes added: "I just hope we get a decent gallop as everything went right in Ireland and that is the way to ride him.

"Aidan (O'Brien) has a pacemaker in there and the American (Noble's Promise) has the rails draw so will probably make use of that, but Makfi is the one I fear most.

"He looked very good at Newmarket and can only get better, but, having said that, Canford has been a different horse since our Guineas and settled so much better in Ireland.

"If he reproduces his Curragh run, we'll be right there."

Hannon also has a fine second representative in Dick Turpin, runner-up in the English and French Guineas.

The trainer told his website, www.richardhannonracing.tv: "I would always rather keep two good horses apart and would have preferred to have run Dick Turpin in the Jersey Stakes, in which he would have been a shoo-in - even with his 5lb penalty.

"But John Manley, his owner, makes the point that he has already beaten Canford Cliffs twice and with his French Guineas form having been given a terrific boost when the winner followed up in the Prix du Jockey-Club, it is hard to argue against allowing Dick Turpin to try to grab his own Group One."

Makfi is the French raider who beat Hannon's duo at Newmarket and trainer Mikel Delzangles is looking forward to renewing rivalry with Canford Cliffs, but also has the utmost respect for his compatriot Siyouni.

"He's very well, he travelled over on Monday morning and everything went fine," said Delzangles.

"I think he is a bit stronger than he was at Newmarket so we'll see if he can improve on the track.

"It is another good race with Canford Cliffs running against us again and you must not forget the other French horse (Siyouni) as he was unlucky in the Guineas at Longchamp."

It will be the first time Makfi has tackled a bend on Tuesday and he will also have a new partner in Olivier Peslier, but Delzangles does not believe either factor will hinder his chances.

"I don't think the track will be a problem for our horse as he is very handy," the trainer added.

"It will be his first time round a turn but that should be fine for him.

"He is a very easy ride and I think Olivier will get on very well with him."

French jockey Christophe Lemaire partnered Makfi to victory in the Guineas at Newmarket but is forced to give up the ride tomorrow.

Lemaire is in the first season of his contract to ride principally for leading owner the Aga Khan, who runs the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Siyouni.

Siyouni won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere last season but finished outside the first two for the first time in his career in the French Guineas.

"I was very happy to win the 2000 Guineas on Makfi but I have to honour my contract to ride for the Aga Khan," said Lemaire.

"Siyouni is a Group One-winning colt who was a bit unlucky last time in the Poule D'Essai Des Poulains but he's a very good horse and I'm very happy to be riding him.

"Makfi was brilliant in the 2000 Guineas, he is a very easy horse to ride and he has a good turn of foot and all the ability for Ascot racecourse."

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