Hannon still has high hopes for Cliffs
RICHARD HANNON is asking fans of Canford Cliffs to take a giant leap of faith.
The colt in which the trainer has invested maximum confidence was beaten by a stablemate in the Bathwick Tyres Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, yet Hannon expects a different outcome when Canford Cliffs contests the English 2,000 Guineas on Saturday week.
"The bubble is not burst," Hannon said after Dick Turpin collared Canford Cliffs in the last of seven furlongs. "I am very happy with both horses."
The performance of Canford Cliffs was hard to reconcile with Hannon's claim that the colt is the best he has trained. Most worrying was the way Canford Cliffs hung sharply to his left for the second race in succession.
"I don't know why he did it again, but it won't happen at Newmarket," the trainer said. "We will ride him from behind there and have him up against the stands' rail."
Hannon intimated that Dick Turpin was more likely to run next in the French or Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Others ruled out of the Newmarket equation include Workforce and Dancing David, who chased home Elusive Pimpernel in the Craven Stakes, and Arcano, the latter beaten into third by Dick Turpin. "The race came too soon for Arcano," Angus Gold, racing manager to the colt's owner, Sheikh Hamdan, said yesterday. "He spent three months in his box over the winter and hasn't been able to catch up."
Gold also said that Rumoush, a winner at Newmarket on Wednesday, was now "under serious consideration" for the 1,000 Guineas, where she would likely join the same owner's Tabassum in the line-up.
Ralph Beckett will chase a second Classic success with Puff after the filly claimed some notable scalps in the Fred Darling Stakes. Beckett's daughter of Camacho had finished in arrears of Guineas favourite Special Duty in the Cheveley Park last autumn, when Saturday's rivals Misheer and Lady Of The Desert were ahead in second and third.
But the 7/1 chance comprehensively turned the tables under Jim Crowley by swooping late and wide to deny Habaayib by a neck, with the 13/8 favourite Lady Of The Desert fading back into third, having led inside the distance.
Harbinger set up a Coronation Cup tilt with his three-length drubbing in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes.
The Highclere Thoroughbred-owned four-year-old needed minimal assistance from Moore to pull clear of 9/2 joint-favourite Manifest.
Meanwhile, two years after winning the Aintree Grand National on Comply Or Die, Timmy Murphy completed a famous family triumph as he steered his father-in-law's horse Merigo to victory in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
Owned by Ray Green, Merigo was becoming the first Scottish-trained winner of the race since Ken Oliver's Cockle Strand triumphed back in 1982.
Trained by Lockerbie-based Andrew Parker, Merigo corrected that statistic in style, though, turning in a superb round of jumping to come home a nine-length victor.
"I hope I've shut a few people up, because I know there's been a lot of talk," said Murphy, who fasted and sweated for two days to make the minimum weight of 10st on Merigo. The joy of Green, jigging in his tweed suit and lucky tie, made such sacrifices worthwhile.
Murphy was completing a double aboard Merigo after landing the preceding Scottish Champion Hurdle aboard the Donald McCain-trained Overturn.
French Opera survived a couple of jumping errors to oblige as the 7/4 favourite in the Future Champion Novices' Chase -- the first leg of a Nicky Henderson-Barry Geraghty treble.
Elsewhere, Philip Fenton has confirmed that Dunguib will take on Hurricane Fly, Solwhit and Punjabi in Friday's Rabobank Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown festival.
Dunguib had also been entered in tomorrow's Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle, but Fenton feels it's time to take on the leading lights.
English trainers and their horses bound for Punchestown are winning the war against the travel chaos caused by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano.
Paul Nicholls has organised ferry travel for his equine team, including Guinness Gold Cup favourite Denman and leading Boylesports.com Champion Chase hope Twist Magic.