Canford Cliffs rewarded trainer Richard Hannon’s faith in his ability with a rousing three-length victory in the Abu Dhabi Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh May 22.
Canford Cliffs, who captured the Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) last season, entered the Irish classic off of a third-place finish in the StanJames.com Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) in his most recent start. Despite being slightly disappointed with that result, Hannon still felt his colt would prove best a mile, and decided to give the Irish equivalent a try.
Ridden by Richard Hughes, Canford Cliffs was settled in mid-division as two of the Aidan O’Brien-trained runners, Encompassing and Purple Heart, set the pace up front. The two colts, part of a six-horse O’Brien entry, led the field through most of the early stages of the race.
With just over two furlongs to run, Oasis Dancer took over the lead, with Keredari and Xtension hot on his heels. Hughes sat motionless aboard Canford Cliffs, as the colt began to pick off rivals one by one. With just over a furlong to run, Hughes pushed the button and the response was immediate, with Canford Cliffs rocketing to the front and drawing away from the field.
Free Judgement, trained by Jim Bolger, came with a sweeping run down the center of the course to claim second, three lengths behind Canford Cliffs. Aidan O’Brien’s Viscount Nelson got up for third, another 1 ½-lengths further back.
Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:37.64 over a course rated ‘good to firm’.
Richard Hannon Jr., the winning trainer’s son and assistant, told the press after the race, “He relaxed a lot more than usual and was able to finish his race.”
“We probably have three of the best milers in the country (Canford Cliffs, Paco Boy, and Dick Turpin) and people keep saying they are all best at seven furlongs,” Hannon Jr., continued.
“He’ll go to the St. James’s Palace (Stakes, Eng-I) and deserves to take his chance. He’s possibly the best we’ve ever had, and he’s shown it today.”
Bred in Ireland by S and S Hubbard Rodwell, Canford Cliffs is by the French group I winner, Tagula, and out of the Marju mare, Mrs. Marsh. He is owned by the partnership of the Heffer Syndicate, Mrs. Roy, and Mrs. Instance.