English race fans are gearing up for what is being referred to as ‘The Duel on the Downs’, which will see two of the world’s top four horses go head to head.
The Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood next week will see the world’s top ranked racehorse, Frankel, go head to head with the horse that is fourth in the rankings, Canford Cliffs.
According to Timeform ratings Frankel and Canford Cliffs are the highest rated four year old colts in the world (Canford Cliffs is behind only Frankel, Black Caviar and So You Think), and the Sussex Stakes represents the first time the pair will meet.
Questions have been raised over whether Frankel, who has won seven from seven, is deserving of the title of best horse in the world, especially after his narrow victory in the St James Palace Stakes. However trainer Henry Cecil believes the horse is on track to produce his best.
“Frankel seems in very good from at the moment and is really pleasing me in his work,” Cecil said.
“Obviously Canford Cliffs is the one to beat and it is going to be a very interesting race, but he goes there with a great chance and hopefully he will give a good account of himself.”
Tactics and race speed will play a massive result in the race, with the Frankel having proven himself in races run at a genuine pace. However Canford Cliffs’ jockey Richard Hughes believes his horse should be able to get some favours because they are not too many noted leaders in the race.
“I’d imagine there won’t be much pace, and not much pace means you run free,” Hughes said.
“At Ascot we were going a million miles an hour up the hill. I was on Dubawi Gold, sitting second and I couldn’t have gone an inch faster. So that’s why Frankel settled so well. But I think if we go slow then he’ll be keen.
“The feeling I get with Canford Cliffs is no matter what you follow, he’ll go by.
“So I wouldn’t want to hit the front too soon on Canford and ‘win’ the race and then get beat.”
Henry Cecil’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said that the excitement surrounding the ‘Duel on the Downs’ was capturing the English racing public.
“I think leading up to a big race, especially with a horse like Frankel – he’s on everybody’s lips – everyone asks about him. He’s a very dominant horse in all conversations,” Grimthorpe said.
“I think that the public warm to these types of clashes. There’s no question about it – it’s exciting in all sports. The trouble with these so called two horse races are that they allow other horses to be put into them and they are not to be sniffed at either. So it rarely comes down to a two horse race.
“It’s certainly very exciting and Canford Cliffs is a very talented horse.”
Frankel has won seven races from seven starts and has racked up (AUD) $940,000 in prize money. He has won three Group Ones, and as the top rated horse in the world he is $2.00 for the Sussex Stakes.
Canford Cliffs on the other hand has won seven races from ten starts, but he has saluted the judge in five Group One races in a row. The Richard Hannon trained colt has picked up (AUD) $1.19 million in prize money and is currently a marginal second favourite at $2.20.
The winner of the race will more than likely move to the head of the timeform ratings and be declared the best horse in the world.