More winners for the Major…. Hunters Light returned a placed horse at 12/1, Strong Suit winning at 11/4 from 4 selections.
As the week of festival racing rolls on relentlessly like the great Mississippi, the Major stretches his limbs and prepares for another days battle…..
What a day too. The Group 1 Sussex stakes is the highlight of two superb cards. Plenty of puzzles, hotpots, likely sorts and value outsiders. It does feel though that Canford Cliffs versus Frankel is a real racing treat, when that rattling noise of the starters gates indicates the speculation time is done, your heart may flutter and jump, prickles may spread over your skin, your eyes widen and for a moment you feel like a child; Descartes described us as sparks always moving from the fire until death; this is one occasion where the wonderment of childhood can fill your soul and for a few glorious moments, sporting action from the rolling Sussex hills will be restorative….. remember what the Major told you, it is good to feel alive, fill your lungs and be glad, there is nothing else of substance in this life, accept it and be liberated.
The Major cannot control his gluttony so we start with the group contests at Goodwood and first, Canford and Frankel…
The Sussex Stakes
The Major has been flitting between these two world-class milers ever since the plan for Frankel was announced. Here are my thoughts…
Frankel is unbeaten. He is exceptional if for no other reason than his explosive and exciting method of racing. If the tactics employed in the Guineas were brave, they were damn effective. Most of his rivals were off the bridle at an exceptionally early stage. In one sense I think that was an error, many riders got panicked in the Majors view. You see, the clock for the 2,000 Guineas was not that brilliant and I think Frankel tired badly, no matter what connections say. It was a great piece of speed and good initiative.
At Ascot, a similar early committal was made and Frankel would have lost his unbeaten tag if the race had an extra quarter furlong in it.
This leaves three questions, will connections persist with this tactic and if so, what does it mean for his chances? If he settles well and tries to strike off a pace, what will that mean?
Before I answer those, let’s have a look at his rivals. Rio de la Plata is a very very good animal. It is a measure of the sheer world-class nature of this race (you are a lucky boy Glenn) that he is available at 50/1 – I would not put you off either of the outsiders if you fancy them as Rasjaman is also a quality animal – Surely they are filling the minor positions though. That said, Rasjaman was within a length of Goldikova this season, I suspect 1m 2f will see this one at it’s best.
Canford Cliffs is the star of the Hannon stable (although Strong Suit could soon be challenging!) and beating Goldikova, as advised by the Major, was the race of his life. Being a year older, he gets to shoulder an extra 8lbs. Is he good enough to stop the machine that is Frankel?
The Major thinks this is going to come down to the questions I posed about Frankel. To solve this race, I have to take a view and mine is this.
I do not think connections will try to use as much of Frankel as they did at Newmarket or Ascot. I think they know that he is going to be better if settled and using his turn of foot in the final 400 yards only, this is my view too, if you can ride Frankel like this he would be devastating.
I think they rode Frankel more aggressively though because he has speed in bundles and a bit of their plan was to show off! I am just unconvinced that he will settle though if they try to tomorrow. All of his rivals are hold up types which may force him to lead, in this case he must revert to old tactics. If they try and get him cover, he may find the pace way too slow and could well be fighting for his head early.
In summary I think Frankel is exceptional and weighted to beat Canford Cliffs. I also think the small field will be bad for him in the way it was for Workforce.
Canford is available at 11/8 – I will back him. Oddly, I am in Bournemouth tomorrow night, I did not realise that is where Canford Cliffs are until I was Google mapping my hotel! The Major does not believe in signs, I do not truck with the devil.
The Vintage Stakes
the Major hinted at the embarrassment of riches in the Hannon yard when it comes to juveniles and the Vintage Stakes is a great example of this, he saddles no less than 4 of the 7 runners.
Red Duke was a tasty 14/1 winner last time out and looks joint 3/1 favourite here. It seems that the weight might be against him now and Chandlery may well get the upper hand today (Also 3/1)
I suspect Lethal Force does not want 7f and will fade, Dark Angels progeny seem to want 6f or less.
The one that catches the eye for the Major is Rockinate, the Hannon second string. Of course it could be anything, judging the worth of two year olds, even in the same stable is hard work and Ryan Moore might just prove that Hughes took the wrong horse out. This Rock of Gibraltar offspring might just spring a small 5/1 surprise here.
The Galway Chase
What glorious racing, by the time we have digested Frankel versus Canford, Grade A chase action, the best of Galway races.
Bahrain Storm looks exceptionally well handicapped, participation looked unlikely at one stage but enough defectors mean that he takes his place. Although he has recently been racing over shorter distances, he has form over just short of three miles and so 7/1 looks fair enough as he is off bottom weight.
Qulinton is a very interesting horse. Winning any which way you like in the Market Rasen Plate, he has been raised more than a stone but who knows if that is enough to halt progress. He is running into a much greater class of horse but clearly an improver. Considered.
Rebel de Marquis, the Paul Nicholls raider could go very well. I think he will enjoy the genuine good ground.
It is another that will enjoy conditions that the Major opts for, Dr Whizz, 12/1. This one has had a bit of bad luck but has started to show some decent form of late. Stepping up considerably in distance, the stable, I am sure, would not be trying this in the Galway Plate without a view that he might take to it. Slippers is amongst the Majors preferred jump jocks, have a slice and thank me later.
Good luck to you, whether you follow the Majors three suggestions or not. I wish you all well, there is too little time for ill feeling. Roll those dice.