Cliffs set for Coolmore
RICHARD Hannon's top-class miler Canford Cliffs, which came off second best to Frankel in the Sussex Stakes last week, has been retired from racing after it emerged that he picked up a leg injury at Goodwood.
Canford Cliffs went to Goodwood off a run of five Group One victories but was humbled by five lengths, hanging markedly left across the track as Frankel powered away. Afterwards, rider Richard Hughes and Hannon were adamant that the runner-up had not at any point been travelling with his usual ease.
Their reading of the situation might have sounded like an excuse in defeat but is now shown to be perfectly justified. A scan has revealed damage to Canford Cliffs' left-fore ankle and, though the colt isn't lame, he cannot be risked in anger again.
"There is a bit of a shadow on the joint running into the pastern," Hannon reported yesterday, "and that could turn into something nasty, even a fracture. He's sound and I could very nearly go on training him but he's too great a horse to take chances with."
Canford Cliffs showed high-class form in 11 starts over three seasons. At two he routed the opposition in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and at three, he took the Irish 2,000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes before signing off with a defeat of Rip van Winkle in the Sussex.
This year he opened with an easy win in the Lockinge Stakes and then proved himself the year's top older miler as he to beat Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes.
"I knew it was not the real Canford Cliffs at Goodwood," Hannon said. "And at least we now have a reason why he hung. There's no way Frankel would have given our horse such a beating had ours been right and we'd been looking forward to taking him on again."
Canford Cliffs, by some way the best by his sire Tagula, was a bargain buy which made good. He cost just £50,000 as a yearling, went on to earn £950,000 on the track and will start his second career next year at Coolmore Stud in Tipperary.
The Irish operation bought a half-stake of undisclosed value in him last year from owner Robin Heffer, in whose orange silks he continued to race.
Meanwhile, Ballydoyle's former stable jockey Jamie Spencer suffered a blow yesterday when he received a two-day ban which will see him miss the ride on Mount Athos in the Ebor at York on August 20.
The Haydock stewards found the Tipperary native guilty of careless riding on third-placed Beyond Conceit in the juvenile maiden.
On the jumping front, Paul Nicholls is relishing the prospect of Master Minded clashing with Long Run in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.
Although the dual Champion Chase hero has yet to tackle three miles, the Ditcheat trainer is optimistic the distance will be within reach.
"The trip is an unknown but the two times we have stepped him up in trip, he has delivered," said Nicholls.
Long Run ended Kauto Star's four-year reign as winner of the King George before going on to lift the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Denman and Kauto Star chased home Nicky Henderson's young ace and Nicholls gave the latest on his old favourites.
"There are no plans at all for Kauto at this stage," he said. "The plan is that Denman will have two runs this season, the Lexus and Gold Cup, and Cheltenham will probably be his swansong." (© Independent News Service)