Saturday 17 March 2018

Goldikova pips Paco Boy to deny Hughes right Royal treble

Marcus Armytage

IT was happy families at Royal Ascot yesterday as Richard Hannon and his son-in-law Richard Hughes shared the honours with an impressive double, courtesy of the brilliant Canford Cliffs and Strong Suit.

It took Goldikova to stop the pair initiating what would have been a treble, but she denied Paco Boy by a neck to take the Queen Anne.

Some may criticise Hughes for mistiming his run on Paco Boy -- he admitted he might have gone three strides earlier -- but, to some extent on a horse with one short, sharp, usually devastating turn of foot, his hands were tied.

The Freddie Head-trained Goldikova was recording her ninth Group One success. Close to the pace throughout, Olivier Peslier kicked for home two out and it looked all over, until Paco Boy's late surge almost caught the French raider on the line.

Defeat there did nothing to dent Hughes' confidence on the brilliant Canford Cliffs in the St James's Palace Stakes. Turning in, he still had seven lengths to make up on the leader, but he weaved his way through on the 11/4 favourite to beat stable companion Dick Turpin by a length.

Hannon's unswerving faith in Canford Cliffs, since he won last year's Coventry, has now been rewarded with victory in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and St James's Palace. Yesterday also provided sweet revenge over Makfi, which beat him at Newmarket.

Hughes likened Canford Cliffs to a Rolls Royce. "He's so smooth and electric," he said. "Riding another horse after him is like getting into a Morris Minor."

That was before he got on Strong Suit, which denied Elzaam by a nose in the Coventry after a horrendous passage which Hughes put down to the colt's inexperience.

Aidan O'Brien's Rip Van Winkle faded badly in the Queen Anne after pulling hard in the early stages, while the Ballydoyle supremo's other runners generally failed to fire -- the exception being Petronius Maximus, which just failed to catch Marine Commando in the Windsor Castle Stakes.

Equiano has been mounting a one-man defence of European sprinting's honour, it seems. Two years after winning the King's Stand for Spanish trainer Mauricio Delcher, he returned to win it for Barry Hills, despite stumbling out of the stalls. Once he had regained his composure he was never headed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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