Tuesday 20 February 2018

Cliffs can edge Rip in Sussex

Canford Cliffs ridden by Richard Hughes. Photo: Getty Images
Canford Cliffs ridden by Richard Hughes. Photo: Getty Images

J A McGrath

RICHARD HANNON fears today's Sussex Stakes at Goodwood could present a tactical minefield for his brilliant three-year-old miler Canford Cliffs, which is drawn on the extreme outside.

On the colt's immediate inside are two Ballydoyle runners, the tough campaigner Beethoven and regular pacemaker Encompassing, while the stable's key player, Rip Van Winkle (Ryan Moore), is on the opposite side of the track.

Hannon, the veteran who leads the standings in the Dick Hern Award for training most winners at Goodwood this season, gave a promising progress report about Canford Cliffs, which won the Irish 2,000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes, but he is anxious about how this year's Sussex will unfold.

"The horses on his inside are there for nuisance value," he argued. "If we (Canford Cliffs) drop back, then I'm sure one of the Ballydoyle horses will too. If we go forward, I'm sure one will go forward with us. Hughesie (Richard Hughes) will just have to deal with it."

Rip Van Winkle, which beat the Hannon-trained Paco Boy in last year's Sussex, is attempting to become the first to win Goodwood's famous Group One a second time. Trainer Aidan O'Brien expects the four-year-old to improve on his below-par sixth to Goldikova in Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes but, then again, he would need to.

Canford Cliffs tries to strike a blow for the three-year-old generation and, following the crushing defeat of Workforce in Saturday's King George, that too is needed. Much is riding on the result of this fascinating contest.

Meanwhile, O'Brien's Age Of Aquarius will bid to atone for his near miss at Ascot in tomorrow's Artemis Goodwood Cup, in which he will face 11 rivals.

The four-year-old narrowly went down to Dermot Weld's Rite Of Passage in the Gold Cup and will be partnered by Johnny Murtagh after the conclusion of his suspension.

Luca Cumani's Purple Moon was third at Ascot and reopposes the Ballydoyle colt. Kite Wood disappointed at Ascot but had earlier beaten Kasbah Bliss in France, a victory for which he must carry a 3lb penalty. Connections are hoping for a shower or two of rain for the St Leger runner-up.

John Dunlop's Tactic has been on a steep upward curve this season, winning a Listed race at York by 14 lengths and beating Weld's solid yardstick Profound Beauty in the Curragh Cup. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

GOODWOOD selections

2.10 -- Theola (nap)

2.45 -- Crown Prosecutor

3.25 -- Canford Cliffs

4.00 -- Sea Of Heartbreak

4.35 -- Yashila

5.10 -- Dance East

5.45 -- Oratory

Irish Independent

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