20-1 WINNER FOR DAQMAN: After a sensational 16-day naps sequence which included nine winners out of 11, Daqman nominated a huge outsider yesterday with Nehaam (WON 20-1) at Ascot.
GOODWOOD SPECIAL ON THE SUSSEX STAKES: It’s Glorious Goodwood week and, as a preview, Daqman today examines the careers of the two main protagonists in Wednesday’s Sussex Stakes: Frankel v Canford Cliffs.
Who’s the champion miler, then? Ever since Frankel streaked away from the 2,000 Guineas field at Newmarket in the Spring, racing fans of a battle royal have been eager for Canford Cliffs to take him on. It happens on Wednesday.
Canford Cliffs is the title defender, as winner of the race last year in the same decade as other great champions, Soviet Song and Rock Of Gibraltar, and in a race won by all-time greats Petite Etoile (1959) and Brigadier Gerard (1971).
1132311111 CANFORD CLIFFS: Trainer Richard Hannon, jockey Richard Hughes. He’s the Phil Taylor of milers. Always there. Always a worry. A steady hand, surging through. A formidable force coiled on the oche and unwound at the right time in the race.
Canford Cliffs has won seven of his 10 races – always ridden by Richard Hughes – a very short CV for a colt in the 26th month of his racing career. By Tagula out of Mrs Marsh (Marju). Black marks: No horse has won the Sussex Stakes twice since its inception in 1878. He has to give weight for age to Frankel.
Coventry Stakes winner at the Royal Ascot of 2009 by six lengths, Canford Cliffs would race all but once as favourite ever after that scintillating performance until last month he met Goldikova more than two years later.
What observers spotted in the Coventry was something that sets a colt apart from the rest, even from other good winners: he went to the front but then, challenged from halfway, he visibly quickened again and went clear. Only great horses can quicken off a fast pace, changing gear like a Ferrari.
But, strangely in retrospect, Canford Cliffs would not win another race for nearly a year: he was only third in the Prix Morny, which wound up his two-year-old season, and, though he turned over the form with the Morny winner on his reappearance in the Greenham, he was beaten by stablemate Dick Turpin.
When Canford Cliffs was beaten for a third consecutive time, third to Makfi in the Guineas, the bubble seemed to have burst. It was excuse time. There was even talk of bringing him back to sprints.
But Richard Hannon insisted: he’s the best I’ve ever trained. That’s saying something from a man who first won a major race – the 2,000 Guineas with Mon Fils – in 1973 and is the current champion trainer.
Canford Cliffs would never be beaten again, taking the Curragh 2,000 Guineas, then avenging the Dick Turpin defeat by beating that one in the St James’s Palace Stakes, finding the strong pace right up his street.
Richard Hughes said before the Sussex Stakes that the colt had improved since Royal Ascot and, though he managed to beat Rip Van Winkle only a neck, he clearly was dynamite now.
Reappearing with a win in the Lockinge, Canford Cliffs was being lined up for the race of his life this summer: no, not Wednesday’s seeming match with Frankel but the Royal Ascot clash with Goldikova in the Queen Anne, billed like so many these days as the race of the century.
The Group-1-record-breaking mare Goldikova had a pacemaker (Flash Dance) but, of course, that also set up Canford Cliffs. He drew alongside her and proved the stronger in the last 100 yards.
1111-111 FRANKEL: Trainer Henry Cecil, jockey Tom Queally. He’s the Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins of racehorses. He wants to get the job done quickly. No messing about lining up the target. Opposition? What opposition. What does he care?
Like Higgins, he sweats up. Like Higgins, he’s a firecracker, a ball of nervous energy, stealing himself for the kill every time he’s launched onto the green.
Frankel has won all seven races in a 10-month career, always ridden by Tom Queally. By Galileo out of Kind (Danehill). Black marks: Two changes for Frankel in that he won’t be racing on a straight course and his tactics will change; they’ll have to.
Frankel’s very first race now looks like a championship battle in hindsight. Who could have known then, in a mile maiden on soft ground, on the Newmarket July course last August, that the one-two would go on to be the so-called wonder horse and the King George winner. We’re talking Frankel beats Nathaniel half a length.
Frankel was noted ‘barely off the bridle’ and (well done Raceform), Nathaniel was marked down as ‘looks sure to improve’ and ‘sure to enhance his family’s reputation.’ You can say that again.
After a couple of small-field ‘easies’, including the Group-2 Royal Lodge, Frankel went to the top of the ladder to attempt his first Group 1, the Dewhurst at Newmarket in October.
This time held up in rear, and on soft ground, he swept past the subsequent Grand Criterium – and this year’s Irish 2,000 – winner, Ballydoyle’s Roderic O’Connor.
Frankel wasn’t particularly spectacular in the Greenham on his reappearance but the Guineas was a different story. Partly because he was allowed to run his own race – electric from start to finish – and partly because he was mistaken by some jockeys for the pacemaker, he made all the running in devastating style.
He was a good seven lengths clear at halfway and nothing else was ever seen with a chance, returning Henry Cecil to the Guineas winners’ enclosure for the first time since Bolkonski and Wollow in the 1970s and scoring in a style reminiscent of Tudor Minstrel, the eight-lengths winner in 1947.
Henry was then chivvied and challenged (including by me) to race Frankel in the Derby, and Canford Cliff’s trainer, Richard Hannon, mocked that Frankel needed ‘proper training’ to race properly.
But he was kept to a mile and almost ‘got beat’ when Zoffany closed him down to threeparts of a length in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
One reason put forward for not running Frankel in the Derby was the memory of Tudor Minstrel’s defeat after that 1947 romp. What had been forgotten is that 1947 was the year of a great snow and hardly any horses were race fit at the time of Tudor Minstrel’s Guineas. Some say it will need a snowfall in July to stop Frankel on Wednesday.
LAY to win 10pts RED HEARTS and 8pts win (nap) CONCORDIA NOTTE (2.45 Yarmouth)
LAY to win 10pts MARINERS LODGE (4.00 Ayr)
BET 10pts win FASHIONABLE GAL (6.30 Uttoxeter)
DAQ MULTIPLES: 3 x 1pt win doubles and 1pt win treble Concordia Notte (2.45 Yarmouth), Fashionable Gal (6.30 Uttoxeter) and Kalamkas (8.10 Windsor)