07/25/2011 3:14PM

Goodwood: Frankel gets biggest test against Canford Cliffs in Sussex Stakes

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Frankel will test his perfect record against Canford Cliffs in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Unbeaten 3-year-old sensation Frankel has humbled rivals in his age set, but Wednesday, Frankel faces the strongest foe he has yet met, 4-year-old Canford Cliffs, in a highly anticipated renewal of the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at the Glorious Goodwood meeting in England.

Only two others were entered, and while both Rajsaman and Rio de la Plata are nice horses, the one-mile Sussex widely is viewed as a match race between Frankel and Canford Cliffs. The English bet-taker Coral, in fact, will refund losing wagers on Frankel and Canford Cliffs should neither win.

It seems likely the Sussex, run around one fairly sharp right-handed turn over going expected to be good, will play out as a contrast in styles. While Frankel’s connections, Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms and trainer Henry Cecil, have declined to discuss tactics, Frankel possesses more speed than Canford Cliffs, whom jockey Richard Hughes generally holds up early before attacking midrace.

Frankel was held early in his final start at 2 and first at 3, but he won the English 2000 Guineas by six lengths – a career-best performance – with a dazzling display of speed and made a midrace move to the lead while capturing the St. James’s Palace Stakes, his most recent start, on June 14 at Ascot. That gave Frankel seven wins from seven starts, but the victory at Ascot came by a diminishing three-quarters of a length over Zoffany, a 3-year-old nowhere near the class of Canford Cliffs. Jockey Tom Queally was panned for his performance while saying he was merely riding to instructions, but in any case it seems unlikely that similar tactics will be employed again Wednesday.

Ante-post betting on the Sussex favors Frankel, but the hype of a perfect record might be the driving force behind that trend.

Winner of his last five starts, Canford Cliffs beat Rip Van Winkle by a narrow margin in the 2010 Sussex and may well be a stronger horse now than he was then. Trained by Richard Hannon, Canford Cliffs easily won the Lockinge Stakes in his 2011 debut, then took the measure of the mighty Goldikova in the straight-course Queen Anne Stakes on June 14 at Ascot. The winning margin that day was one length, but Canford Cliffs and Hughes always appeared to have Goldikova measured, and the victory appeared more comfortable than desperate.

Four-year-old Rajsaman, trained by Freddie Head, is in career-best form, but would need the favorites to falter to win. Rio de la Plata has license to improve in this third start of the year, but was left five lengths behind Canford Cliffs in the Queen Anne.