NOT even Frankel will shift at the sort of velocity Tom Queally achieved yesterday, when blurring around the motor circuit at Goodwood in a performance vehicle at 150mph.
But the Waterford native is guaranteed whiter knuckles still when he rides the unbeaten colt in his next engagement a fortnight tomorrow. Even so, he is resisting the hype in the build-up to his showdown with Canford Cliffs. Queally knows he will have to make another high-profile judgment in the Sussex Stakes.
The former Irish champion apprentice will be facing a seasoned rival whose acceleration has sealed five consecutive Group One races, most recently at the expense of Goldikova herself, over a sharp, turning track that invariably punishes the jockey who finds himself in the wrong place.
Even in getting Frankel home in front at Royal Ascot last month, Queally was widely censured for committing too hard, too soon.
In the circumstances, he can hardly be blamed for playing his cards close to his chest as he dutifully joined the promotion of 'The Duel On The Downs' yesterday. Asked whether he might have sleepless nights before Goodwood, Queally broke into a disbelieving grin.
"Sure it's just a horse race," he shrugged. "You do your homework, obviously. And I do care, of course. But you can't let it get to you. Everyone's different but I'm pretty laid back; always have been."
He professed himself duly impervious to complaints about his Ascot tactics. "I won -- and was still getting criticised," he said. "But I'm not going to let it change me, or get to me. If you get criticised, you take it or ignore it. But I'm not going to let it bother me."
In the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, Queally and Frankel stunned their rivals by going a dozen lengths clear. At Ascot, there was another big, early move. The question now is whether Queally and Henry Cecil will approach Canford Cliffs with more circumspection.
"There may be contrasting tactics to what we've seen," Queally said. "All I can do is look for chinks in Canford Cliffs' armour, like in the races he has been beaten in. Frankel is a trier. A lot of horses with ability get there, prick their ears, pull up and all sorts -- not him, he just wants to keep going."
Eve Johnson Houghton, meanwhile, could launch a double raid on The Curragh this weekend with The Cheka and Fontley. The Cheka has been running well, winning the John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock, and lines up in the Minstrel Stakes on Saturday.
Fontley finished second to the improving Law Of The Range in a Listed race at Pontefract last week and could run in the Kilboy Estate Stakes on Sunday.
There are 17 possibles for the Minstrel Stakes, including Jessica Harrington's Pathfork and the Moone trainer is keen to see how stable star gets on after undergoing minor surgery since his disappointing run in the Guineas.
"He's had a minor wind operation after his run at Newmarket and is back in good form," she said. "We're looking forward to seeing him back on the track." (© Independent News Service)