07/28/2010 1:58PM

Canford Cliffs defeats Rip Van Winkle in Sussex Stakes


Canford Cliffs overcame a series of self-imposed difficulties at Goodwood on Wednesday to win the Group 1, $467,000 Sussex Stakes with a perfectly timed late run that caught Rip Van Winkle in the shadow of the line.

A 3-year-old son of Tagula, Canford Cliffs was reluctant to load missed the break. He was still three lengths behind the 4-year-old Rip Van Winkle at the eighth pole. His rider, Richard Hughes, never blinked, however, as Canford Cliffs displayed a blistering turn of foot to prevail by a rather cozy neck, getting the mile in 1:37.44 on good to firm ground. For the record, Premio Loco was 3 1/4 lengths further back in third, but this race was all about the first two.

Ryan Moore, subbing for the suspended Johnny Murtagh, must have though he was home free aboard the 9-4 Rip Van Winkle approaching the furlong marker, but it was not to be, as the defending title-holder lost for the third time in a row, although in a much improved effort off his sixth-place finish behind Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes. In victory, the 4-6 Canford Cliffs confirmed that he is the best 3-year-old miler in the world, as he had taken the Irish 2000 Guineas and the St. James’s Palace Stakes in equally imperious fashion.

Afterwards, Richard Hannon dubbed Canford Cliffs “the best horse I’ve ever trained.” Hannon, who also has Group 1 winning milers Paco Boy and Dick Turpin in his stable, had earlier sent out the 11-4 King Torus to win the Group 2, $124,000, Vintage Stakes. An Oratorio 2-year-old, King Torus sprinted clear for a six-length victory over Stentorian, clocking 1:27.13 for the seven furlongs. King Torus had previously won Newmarket’s seven-furlong, Group 2 Superlative Stakes and is one of five juvenile group race winners for Hannon this year.

One of them, Libranno, should continue Hannon’s good luck on Friday when he goes in the Group 2, $124,000 Richmond Stakes. The Marlborough conditioner has won the last two runnings of this six-furlong dash for 2-year-olds with Dick Turpin and Prolific and in Libranno he has the 5-4 favorite.

A son of two-time Group 1 mile winner Librettist, Libranno has been perfect thus far, winning a 15-runner maiden on Newmarket’s Rowley Course before taking the six-furlong, Group 2 July Stakes on the Newmarket July Course. Richard Hughes will ride as Marine Commando challenges off a win in the listed five-furlong Windsor Castle Stakes.

Jacqueline Quest, trained by Henry Cecil, crossed the line first in the 1000 Guineas but was disqualified and placed seventh. She has since been 3 1/2 lengths third to Lillie Langtry in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. and that form is far better than anything else in the Group 3, $93,000 Oak Tree Stakes, a seven-furlong contest in which Jacqueline Quest will be meeting older fillies for the first time.