The eagerly-awaited clash between the world’s best milers, Frankel and Canford Cliffs, takes place at Goodwood Racecourse on Wednesday, 27 July in the Group One QIPCO Sussex Stakes, day two of Glorious Goodwood. It is being billed as the ‘Duel on the Downs’.
Frankel’s jockey Tom Queally and Richard Hannon junior, assistant to his father Richard who trains Canford Cliffs (pictured), took each other on in Audi R8 cars at the Goodwood Motor Circuit on Monday 11 July.
Midway through the motor racing action, Hannon revealed: “I don’t remember a race that I have looked forward to so much.
“It took us sort of 10 races to beat Goldikova so we don’t want to go through that again. We won’t be taking on Frankel 10 times if we get beaten.
“Frankel is a very, very good horse and worthy of utmost respect and if you want to see who the best in the world is be at Goodwood on Wednesday.
“In certain races, Frankel has gone off a little bit quick but they still haven’t beaten him yet, which would be my worry.
“Canford Cliffs is pretty fit – he has had his two runs – and we will just keep him ticking over.
“We will probably do a bit on Sunday and then the following Wednesday. He is in great form and looks superb.
“He is a very easy and straightforward horse – there are not really any complications with him and he shows that in his races. He travels – we taught him to settle – which sets him up to take on a horse that goes on. You just sit him in behind and it makes the job pretty easy.
“Canford Cliffs is very easy in his work – he just goes upside. He works with Angel’s Pursuit and has been doing a fair bit with Dick Turpin recently. He just does it on the bridle – he doesn’t need to go four lengths clear.
“I imagine we will sit mid-division in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes, keeping an eye on where Frankel is – and just follow him. We don’t get too involved in the riding and let Hughesie (Richard Hughes) do what he wants – our job is to get the horse there in one piece, which we have nearly done, and let Hughesie do the rest.
“I think it is a massive advantage that our horse has been around Goodwood before and experienced the undulations (when winning the QIPCO Sussex Stakes last year). Frankel is a three-year-old among the big boys now and he might well find it tough.
“Canford Cliffs has always belonged to the Heffer family. They are a big family and they love their racing. They were only ever going to sell their share in him if he was going to stay in training as a four-year-old. To them, every time he runs it is a day out and just like a family wedding with 30 of them turning up. They are in it for the sport. He was always going to stay in training as along as they were involved. I hope he stays in training until he is 10!
“He has filled out a lot now and is like a proper man. Last year there were a few immaturities – he got beat in the Guineas and probably the Greenham because he went off a little bit keen. And now he is very relaxed – that is our next point – is he going to become too relaxed? He is getting very lazy – he has seen it all before. He loves his routine but we change it about a little bit and that is why Goodwood and taking on a fresh horse may be a good thing.”
Queally, reaching speeds of 150mph in the Audi R8, admitted that Frankel was not quite so fast.
The rider said: “The feeling I got off Frankel when he won the Guineas was second to none – he was in tip-top condition and basically ran them into the ground – it was a great day.
“He won at Royal Ascot which was the main thing and now all roads lead to Goodwood and we hope for a bit of luck there.
“I cannot see the Goodwood track being a problem really – obviously Canford Cliffs has proved himself there before but Frankel is a very well balanced colt. It is going to be a great spectacle.”
Asked how he thought the QIPCO Sussex Stakes would pan out, Queally replied: “It is hard to know – there may be contrasting tactics to what we have seen already.
“From my point of view, all I can do is look for chinks in Canford Cliffs’ armour, like in the races he has been beaten in.
“Frankel wants to please you – he is a trier. A lot of horses with that amount of ability get there, prick their ears, pull up and all sorts – not him, he just wants to keep going.
“Shane (Fetherstonhaugh) has done a marvellous job on Frankel at home, keeping him settled and happy – you need good people like that behind the scenes.”
Richard Hughes, the rider of Canford Cliffs, was interviewed over the phone as he is on holiday in Portugal.
He said: “I probably would have had a nasty accident and killed myself or someone else if I had been in the cars today!
“I have loved Canford Cliffs since the first day I rode him as a two-year-old in March, six weeks before he ran, and he has never let me down.
“He actually ran away with me in the Coventry Stakes (at Royal Ascot) when he won very impressively and then he went to the Prix Morny and he wasn’t quite right when I rode him handy.
“That was him done as a two-year-old and the Newbury race the following season was a trial and I wanted a fit horse going into the Guineas, so I let him stride that day and he just pulled up in front, but he wasn’t working well before the Greenham. Then in the Guineas, he ran a bit keen but ever since then he has been as good as gold, dropping in.
“Settling is not really an issue with him now.
“I’m a huge admirer of Frankel – I think he is a brilliant horse – he is probably the best three-year-old over a mile in a long time. I respect him totally.
“The other thing going into the race is that I am not afraid to lose – if I beat him, better again, but there would be no disgrace if he beats me.
“Canford Cliffs beat Goldikova quite well at Royal Ascot – I thought (Olivier) Peslier gave her a brilliant ride – he would not kick and as long as he didn’t I couldn’t. If there had been a better gallop, I probably might have won a bit easier.
“I rode Canford Cliffs just before I went on holiday and he felt great. We will probably do a half-speed and then one serious bit of work before letting him freshen up for the last four days before the race.
“That is the only reason I am not riding this week, if I got a ban I would miss the race. And I was not going to let that happen.”
Adam Waterworth, managing director of Goodwood Racecourse, is delighted that Glorious Goodwood is the venue where Canford Cliffs and Frankel are due to meet.
He said: “The idea behind the QIPCO Sussex Stakes is that the three-year-olds meet the older horses – you always hope to get the clash between the new champion against the reigning champion and luckily this year it looks like we will have that race.
“It is fantastic that the new champion in Frankel is meeting our reigning champion in Canford Cliffs, the leading older horse at a mile. You could not write a better script.”
The QIPCO Sussex Stakes is run over a mile on the second day of Glorious Goodwood, Wednesday, 27 July7, at 3.10pm. It is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.