Richard Hannon believes Canford Cliffs is “at the top of his game” as he looks to add to his Group One tally in today’s Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Always highly regarded since his scintillating victory in last year’s Coventry Stakes, the Tagula colt has lived up to his reputation in his last two races.
After defeats in the Greenham and the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, he has fairly bolted up in the Irish Guineas and in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Hannon has only won the prestigious race once before, with Reel Buddy, who was an unconsidered outsider seven years ago, so admits his feelings going into the race are different on this occasion.
“Reel Buddy was a 50-1 chance when he won this race in 2003, but Canford Cliffs is odds-on, so the pressure is that much greater,” said Hannon.
“However, he has done everything right at home since Royal Ascot, and I must say that he looks magnificent.
“He has improved physically – he is bigger and stronger, and we don’t see the Goodwood undulations being a problem as he settles so much better than he did at Newmarket on Guineas day.
“He hadn’t really come to himself then but now he is at the top of his game, and while ideally they will go a good gallop as it would help him relax, if they do go slow, as (Richard) Hughesie says, there is not a colt in Europe who can quicken like he can,” he told his website, www.richardhannonracing.tv.
Twelve months ago the finish was fought out between Aidan O’Brien’s Rip Van Winkle and Hannon’s Paco Boy, and while the latter arrives with a new challenger, O’Brien is relying on the old guard.
But he has something to prove after disappointing at the Breeders’ Cup and in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
“Rip Van Winkle is in good form since Ascot, we think he has progressed and will progress more as the season goes on,” said O’Brien.
The Coolmore team are also responsible for likely pace maker Encompassing and last season’s Dewhurst winner Beethoven, who will be ridden by O’Brien’s son, Joseph, just as he was when four lengths behind Canford Cliffs at Ascot.
“Beethoven is also in good form since Ascot. We think he has come on since his run at Ascot and will improve again from this run,” he added on www.coolmore.com.
In a boost to the already huge prize money pot, connections of Premio Loco decided to supplement the Summer Mile winner.
“We supplemented him for the race and obviously it’s going to be a big call for him,” said trainer Chris Wall.
“We thought we’d have a go while he’s in good form and going well, rather than wait for a Group One venture later in the season when maybe he’d have gone past his best and lost the ground.
“It’s a Group One race and there’s no hiding place, but I think if he runs up to his Ascot form he should have a chance of getting in the first three.”
Andrew Balding’s Dream Eater is still searching for his first success of the year, but a fine third behind Goldikova and Paco Boy in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne showed he is well up to competing at this level.
“He’s in terrific order and the track and the trip are exactly what he wants,” said Balding. “The ground should be perfect for him and I couldn’t be happier with him, so hopefully he’ll run very well.
“He ran a blinder in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and he just idled when he hit the front in the Summer Mile last time.
“We’ll probably be leaving it late with him on Wednesday.”
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