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Canford Cliffs and Frankel steal the show

14 Jun 2011

An awesome opening day at Royal Ascot saw two outstanding milers enhance their burgeoning reputations with victories in QIPCO British Champions Series races, while a new sprinting star emerged in the third Series race

Frankel retains his unbeaten record with victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes.  Image courtesy of Racingfotos.com.

Canford Cliffs proved himself the king of Europe’s older milers with a brilliant victory in the Queen Anne Stakes, the opening race of Royal Ascot and the third race in the QIPCO British Champions Series Mile division.

An hour and a quarter later, Frankel remained king of Europe’s three-year-old milers when stretching his unbeaten career record to seven wins in the St James’s Palace Stakes, the fourth Mile race in the Series.

While Canford Cliffs played his hand late, cutting down the brilliant French mare, Goldikova, inside the final furlong to win by a cosy length, Frankel showed his blistering acceleration much earlier in his race.

After being held up in the early stages in contrast to his front-running QIPCO 2000 Guineas triumph, the Sir Henry Cecil-trained colt led over three furlongs from home and was soon several lengths clear.

Inside the final furling, however, he was either idling or tiring and had only ¾ length to spare at the line from the staying-on Irish raider, Zoffany.

The big question now is when will the most eagerly awaited showdown for years take place?

Frankel vs Canford Cliffs would be billed as the race of the century so far and, unless Frankel’s connections decide to up him in distance to a mile and a quarter in the Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday 17th August, then the QIPCO Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday 27th July would provide the perfect occasion. It’s the fifth race in the Mile category.

If that does not materialise, then all eyes will be on the £1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot which will be by far the most valuable mile race ever run in Europe. The big Mile finale of the Series would provide the perfect setting for the clash of the miling superstars.

“These kind of horses don’t come along very often,” said Canford Cliffs’ trainer, Richard Hannon, after his stable star’s victory, a comment that could apply equally to Frankel.

They are two exceptional thoroughbreds and we are privileged to have them both racing in the same magical season.

While both Canford Cliffs and Frankel have been hailed as stars from very early in their careers, the third QIPCO British Champions Series winner of the day, Prohibit in the King’s Stand Stakes, has hit the heights comparatively late in life.

Now a six-year-old and never before successful in a Group race, he followed up his third place in the first sprint race of the QIPCO British Champions Series, the betfred.com Temple Stakes at Haydock Park last month, with a victory in the second.

It was a fine performance, coming late to beat four overseas raiders – an Australian (Star Witness, 2nd), a Hong Kong challenger (Sweet Sanette, 3rd), a Hungarian (their star sprinter, Overdose, 4th) and a German (War Artist, 5th).

It was the biggest victory of their respective careers for trainer Robert Cowell and jockey Jim Crowley in what was a hugely competitive, multi-national sprint.

Clearly improving all the time, Prohibit could prove a tough horse to beat in the next five furlong sprint in the Series, the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday 19th August (the next two sprint races in the Series are both over six furlongs).

To view the full Queen Anne Stakes result and winning connections’ comments, click here.

To view the full St James’s Palace Stakes result and winning connections’ comments, click here.

To View the full King’s Stand Stakes result and winning connections’ comments, click here.