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Hannon: 'Cliffs will be hard to beat'

There is some very exciting action to look forward to on the track this weekend, no matter what your preference.

Jump racing returns to Navan on Saturday, while Casamento is just one of the names to look forward to lining up at the Curragh on Sunday.

However, the action across the water at Ascot on Saturday is set to be real scintillating stuff altogether.

French rider Makfi is all the rage with some bookmakers and now disputes favouritism for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, but Richard Hannon cannot wait to unleash his three-time Group One winner, Canford Cliffs.

Makfi triumphed in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, with Canford Cliffs only third on that occasion, but a reversal of the form could be on the cards this weekend.

Hannon was keen to stress how well Canford Cliffs worked and he did his piece with stable mate Angel's Pursuit.

The trainer said: "Angel's Pursuit is a decent sprinter, who was second in last year's Mill Reef Stakes and has won a Listed race this season, so nobody could say that this was a 'Jim'll Fixit' gallop.

"A drop of rain would not bother us, though I'd rather we did not get too much as that would favour Makfi, but there are no easy Group One races and we know that Canford Cliffs will have to be bang on song to see off what looks very hot competition."

Hannon added: "Obviously, the big race is still three days away and horses can change quickly, but we will have him scoped and if his reading is good, I see no reason why he should not be very hard to beat at Ascot.

"I have seen Canford Cliffs improve so much both physically and mentally since Royal Ascot."

Last night, Cape Blanco, the surprise inclusion at Monday's latest forfeit stage, was backable at 39/1 on Betfair, signalling that Rip Van Winkle would be the leading light in the race for the Ballydoyle outfit.

Also set to appear on Saturday is the Henry Cecil-trained juvenile Frankel, who could find himself the clear 2000 Guineas favourite if producing another impressive display in the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes.

The colt by Galileo carries the colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah and his racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe admits Saturday will provide a tougher assignment.

"He's in very good form, he's come out of Doncaster really nicely and had a blowout the other morning. Henry seems very pleased with him and he looks a decent prospect," Grimthorpe said.

"He did it very well at Doncaster but obviously he's going to find his next race or two a lot more testing than that I would imagine."