BOOKMAKERS have unanimously inserted Canford Cliffs as favourite in his defining clash with Makfi in Saturday’s Sony-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
Richard Hannon’s colt finished third behind the French ace in the 2000 Guineas in May before gaining his revenge over a below-par Makfi in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
They both won on their next start, Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes while Makfi caused waves in beating Goldikova at Deauville, and will arrive in Berkshire at the top of their game.
Totesport are keenest on Canford Cliffs, making him their even-money jolly with the Mikel Delzangles-trained Makfi at 9-4.
“Canford Cliffs holds all the aces ahead of the QEII having beaten both Makfi and Rip Van Winkle earlier on in the season, but both those horses have since won at the top level so we should be in for an absolute cracker at Ascot on Saturday,” said totesport spokesman George Primarolo.
Makfi, a 2-1 chance with Skybet, pleased Delzangles in a workout on Monday morning.
“He had a little exercise and everything went fine,” said Delzangles.
“He is pleasing me as much now as he has done all year, definitely.
“I’m not too worried that it has been dry at Ascot recently, it was fast ground when he won the Guineas.
“The Breeders’ Cup is his main objective, I have to say, rather than this week.
“It is very exciting to be coming up against Canford Cliffs again, it should be a good match.
“Christophe Soumillon will be on board again on Saturday. He won on him last time.”
It is not just a two-horse race, however, with last year’s winner Rip Van Winkle sure to catch the eye of many punters as he reverts to a mile following his victory in the Juddmonte International at York.
He is a 7-2 chance with Skybet, while his trainer Aidan O’Brien has thrown a curve ball into the mix by leaving in Irish Champion Stakes and Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco.
Matt Doyle of Skybet said: “Two great milers dominate the betting for the Classic generation and it will be fascinating to see how Ballydoyle play their hand with Rip Van Winkle and Cape Blanco both entered.”
Ballydoyle could also run last year’s Dewhurst winner Beethoven, Windsor Palace, Air Chief Marshal and Steinbeck.
Godolphin supplemented Celebration Mile winner Poet’s Voice, meaning there are 14 possibles.
Dick Turpin, a stablemate of Canford Cliffs, was a notable absentee, while Mick Channon has decided against running his classy filly Music Show.
Godolphin have also left in Rio De La Plata, who appears to be running right up to his best form of late.
Mark Johnston has left in Awzaan, while Pat Eddery will be hoping Hearts Of Fire can bounce back after a below-par run at Salisbury.
Red Jazz could run for Barry Hills, but Bushman’s participation is in doubt.
“Races are few and far between now. He’s been left in the QEII but I doubt he’ll run there,” said his trainer David Simcock.
“He’ll probably carry a penalty in the Joel Stakes on October 1 at Newmarket.”
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Paddy Power bet: 5-4 Canford Cliffs, 11-4 Makfi, 100-30 Rip Van Winkle, 16-1 Poet’s Voice, Rio De La Plata, Steinbeck, 20-1 Hearts Of Fire, 25-1 Awzaan, 40-1 bar.
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