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Canford Cliffs Cruises in Irish 2000 Guineas

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.


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Mastercraftsman Designs Easy Win in Irish 2000 Guineas

Mastercraftsman crushed his rivals when powering to an impressive 4 ½-length victory in the Boylesports.com Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh May 23.

The son of Danehill Dancer became trainer Aidan O’Brien’s ninth successive Irish classic winner and his fifth Two Thousand Guineas victor in the last ten years.

Breaking sharply from the gate under Johnny Murtagh, Mastercraftsman was forwardly placed in third, behind the pacesetting Viceroy of India and Soul City.  With two furlongs left, Viceroy of India began to fade as Mastercraftsman rolled to the front and began to draw off from the rest of the field to win easily.

Rayeni, a promising son of Indian Ridge trained by John Oxx, came on for second, 1 ¾-lengths in front of Soul City, who held on for third.  Delegator, the second choice in the betting, was never comfortable over the heavy ground and finished eighth.

Final time for the eight furlongs over the heavy going was 1:48.16.

Mastercraftsman, who entered the Irish Guineas off of a fifth place finish in the stanjames.com Two Thousand Guineas Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket, has now won five of seven lifetime starts.  He boasts three group I victories on his resume, with previous wins coming in the Independent Waterford Wedgwood Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) and Bank of Scotland (Ireland) National Stakes (Ire-I) last year.

O’Brien indicated after the race that Mastercraftsman would be pointed to St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.

Mastercraftsman is a 3-year-old son of Danehill Dancer out of Starlight Dreams, by Black Tie Affair.  He was bred in Ireland by Lynch Bages Ltd., and is owned by Derrick Smith.  He is a half-brother to Genuine Devotion (by Rock of Gibraltar), who captured the Locust Grove Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs last year.

**Editor’s note**—I posted this here since I got ‘bumped’ from the BH website.  Just didn’t get it posted quick enough. 😉

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