09/23/2010 12:48PM

Canford Cliffs withdrawn from Queen Elizabeth II Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rip Van Winkle will try to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for the second straight year on Saturday.

Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot was hit by the shocking news on Thursday that Canford Cliffs, the favorite for the Group 1, $391,000 mile, would miss the race after having scoped badly. That leaves Makfi as Ladbrokes’s new 4-5 favorite with defending titleholder Rip Van Winkle the second choice at 5-2.

Canford Cliffs has won three straight Group 1 miles, defeating Rip Van Winkle by a neck on July 28 in Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes. His trainer, Richard Hannon, was devastated by the bad news, although he said that the scope was marginal and that he should be fit in about a week. Although Canford Cliffs had not been under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Hannon told the Racing Post that the race “has not been completely ruled out but at this stage I would say it’s a longshot.”

Trained in France by Mikel Delzangles, Makfi earned high marks for his 2 1/2-length victory over Goldikova in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 15 when the two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner was ill at ease on the very soft ground. By the hot stallion Dubawi, Makfi had won the 2000 Guineas on good to firm ground at Newmarket in May, so the state of the ground seems to make no difference to him. He will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon.

The Queen Elizabeth II is a Win and You’re In race for the BC Mile, and while Makfi is pointing to that race, it is uncertain whether Rip Van Winkle will go in the Mile or the Classic, in which he finished 10th last year on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride. He has run twice since his Sussex loss to Canford Cliffs, both times at or about 1 1/4 miles, winning the Juddmonte International at the expense of Twice Over and Byword, then chasing home his Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemate Cape Blanco by 5 1/2 lengths in the Irish Champion Stakes.

While Rip Van Winkle is a course and distance winner, Makfi failed the only time he ran on Ascot’s one-turn mile when seventh behind Canford Cliffs in the St. James’s Palace Stakes. On that evidence, Rip Van Winkle is the selection with Johnny Murtagh at the controls.

Poet’s Voice improved to win the four-runner, Group 2 Celebration Mile by 4 1/2 lengths on Aug. 28 but would have to improve again to beat the top two.

Two other Breeders’ Cup Challenge races are on the Ascot card. In the Group 1, $311,000 Fillies Mile, for which the winner qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Group 3 Prestige Stakes winner Theyskens’ Theory will engage Group 2 Park Stakes winner White Moonstone. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, White Moonstone is a son of Dynaformer and is the selection with Frankie Dettori riding. The Bernardini filly Theyskens’ Theory, a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy, is trained by Brian Meehan and picks up the services of Ryan Moore.

A victory by Frankel in the $194,000 Royal Lodge Stakes would get Juddmonte’s Henry Cecil-trained son of Galileo into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Frankel made it 2 for 2 lifetime with the easiest of 13-length victories in a three-runner allowance at Doncaster two weeks ago and faces no tigers in this Group 2 mile. He is as low as 1-3 with some bookmakers and appears to have Deauville listed winner Klammer and four other rivals over a barrel.