Canford Cliffs, under a perfectly timed ride from Richard Hughes, reeled in Rip Van Winkle in the final strides to capture the Sussex Stakes (Eng-I) at Glorious Goodwood July 28.
The Sussex was the third straight group I victory for the Richard Hannon-trained colt following his earlier successes in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) and the Abu Dhabi Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I). It also continued the superb season for both the trainer and jockey, who teamed up to capture the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes (Eng-II) with King Torus prior to the Sussex.
Rip Van Winkle, who won this race last year, was making just his second start of the season. The 4-year-old colt made his seasonal debut in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot, where he finished a tired sixth to Goldikova. The Aidan O’Brien trainee figured to benefit from that start, and was sent off as the close second choice in the wagering to Canford Cliffs.
Canford Cliffs broke awkwardly and was held up at the back of the field by Hughes, as longshot Encompassing zipped straight to the front to set the pace. The Montjeu colt, one of three Ballydoyle trainees in the race, quickly opened up several lengths on the rest of the field.
Rip Van Winkle galloped along comfortably in second, while stablemate Beethoven tracked them in third. They were followed closely by Premio Loco. Hughes kept Canford Cliffs covered up toward the rear.
As the field straightened for home, Ryan Moore went to work aboard Rip Van Winkle, and the son of Galileo powered past Encompassing to take command. The duo opened up on the rest of the field, increasing their lead to two lengths with just over a furlong to go.
In the meantime, Hughes had swung Canford Cliffs to the outside, where he had a clear run at the leader. When Hughes pushed, Canford Cliffs responded to sweep past ‘Rip’ in the final yards.
Premio Loco got up for third, another 3 1/4 lengths farther back. The final time for the eight furlongs was 1:37.44 over the good to firm going.
A delighted Hughes told reporters after the race: “He’s a superstar. He’s improved by 10 pounds and he actually ran a bit rusty there, he never got into full flight. My horse pricked his ears in the last 100 yards and was in command."
Richard Hannon, who also conditions group I winners Dick Turpin and Paco Boy, said of his Sussex winner: “He’s a very good horse, one of the best I’ve ever had. I would love to keep him in training . . . then I might not retire.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from studs for him and it would be nice if we could keep him in training and run him next year. If we could do that he might not need to do much more this year.”
Aidan O’Brien was pleased with Rip Van Winkle’s performance, saying, “He progressed lovely from Ascot which we though he would. There is still more to come though and he will progress again.”
Bred in Ireland by S and S Hubbard Rodwell, Canford Cliffs is by the French group I winner, Tagula out of the Marju mare Mrs. Marsh. He is owned by the partnership of the Heffer Syndicate, Mrs. Roy, and Mrs. Instance.