Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hannon hails glorious Cliffs

Canford Cliffs. Photo: Getty Images
Canford Cliffs. Photo: Getty Images

JA McGrath

RICHARD HANNON is ready to strike a bargain with potential buyers of the brilliant Canford Cliffs, yesterday's Sussex Stakes winner at Goodwood, whom the handler describes as "the best I've ever trained".

If a would-be purchaser agrees to leave the three-year-old in training next year, Hannon promises to deliver "the most gorgeous-looking horse" for stud duties at the end of the campaign. "And he'll be a hell of a horse (on the racecourse) next season," he added.

When the Ballydoyle-elect Rip Van Winkle took it up and sprinted for home a furlong and a half out in the Sussex, there was just a moment when Canford Cliffs looked set for a real fight. However, once balanced by Richard Hughes, the colt quickly hit top gear and gathered in last year's winner without much fuss.

Although he won by just a neck, Canford Cliffs, the 4/6 favourite, comfortably had the measure of Rip Van Winkle, partnered by Ryan Moore, with a gap of three and a quarter lengths back to Premio Loco in third.

Hannon's widely-expressed fears that the Ballydoyle riding tactics would make it difficult for Canford Cliffs proved groundless. When the gates opened, Hughes eased his mount straight out the back, and both Encompassing and Beethoven kicked on up front.

Coolmore, for one, are known to be interested in snapping up Canford Cliffs as a potential stallion, but still on the racing agenda this year are races such as the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville and Ascot's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

"While we might step Dick Turpin up to a mile and a quarter, a mile is fine for this fellow (Canford Cliffs)," Hannon pointed out.

Hannon (65) has held a trainer's licence for 40 years, but despite the endless number of decent horses he has trained -- including three English Classic winners -- he considers Canford Cliffs the best.

"I love Paco Boy and my Guineas winners, but this horse just has it all. That's three Group Ones now. He's a gorgeous horse and always has been; he has a lovely turn of foot. I don't think this is even his ideal track: he's better on a stiffer course like The Curragh," Hannon explained.

Aidan O'Brien, meanwhile, was encouraged by the good second turned in by Rip Van Winkle. "He's progressed lovely from Ascot, where he got tired. There's more to come and he's back on the right road," O'Brien said.

Earlier, King Torus helped Hannon reach his 50th winner at Glorious Goodwood with a convincing effort in the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes.

Despite carrying a 3lb penalty for his victory in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, it was smooth sailing for jockey-of-the-moment Hughes as he steered King Torus (11/4) six lengths clear of Stentorian.

"It was a serious performance," said Hughes.

Nicky Henderson loves a cut at the meeting with one of his jumpers and he struck with the ex-Dermot Weld-trained Ghimaar in the Goodwood Stakes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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