Canford Cliffs has made an instant impact at stud and is already approaching 20 winners with his first crop of juveniles. Talent on the track can never guarantee a successful career as a sire, but the latest addition to the Coolmore roster is already making his mark.
His career on the racecourse was an illustrious one. Trained by Richard Hannon senior, he made a stunning debut as a two-year-old when winning a maiden at Newbury by seven lengths. His romp at Royal Ascot in the Coventry Stakes marked him down as a top-class juvenile. He streaked clear to win by six lengths before a slightly under-par trip to France when only third in the Prix Morny.
His return in the Greenham Stakes at three was rather less than stunning when he was beaten by his stable companion Dick Turpin. They finished in the same order in the 2,000 Guineas though both failed to get the better of the French raider Makfi. Canford Cliffs then appeared to blossom. His form soared as he took a trio of Group 1’s. He trotted up in the Irish 2,000 Guineas before taking the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, finally getting one over Dick Turpin in the process.
His three-year-old campaign was completed with a thrilling victory in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. A devastating burst of speed saw him overhaul Rip Van Winkle inside the final 100 yards.
Kept in training as a four-year-old, he took the Lockinge with relative ease before heading to Royal Ascot for a hugely anticipated clash with the French mare Goldikova. Peslier took up the running two from home, but Richard Hughes shadowed the mare’s every move. He proved too strong in the final furlong stretching a length ahead at the line. It proved to be as exciting as all had hoped; a truly thrilling race.
All eyes then turned to Goodwood and a likely encounter with a new superstar by the name of Frankel. Undefeated in seven starts, Sir Henry’s colt had taken the Guineas in stunning fashion before a less than impressive victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot. Nevertheless, the younger horse was installed as race favourite and fans sat back anticipating another thriller. Sadly Hannon’s charge proved no match, though he hung badly late on suggesting he may not have been at his very best physically.
It proved to be Canford’s final outing and just weeks later he was retired to stud due to a leg injury. A stunning career had gleaned seven victories from 10 starts, including five at Group 1 level.
That stud career may well prove to be as successful if the early signs are anything to go by. A host of decent types have already hit the track, including group winners Painted Cliffs and Most Beautiful. The former runs for Ballydoyle and was very impressive in winning a Group 2 at the Curragh last time. Most Beautiful is a lovely big filly trained by David Wachman, and was also impressive at the Curragh last time out.
The Hannon team has Wall of Fire in their care. He won at Ascot on debut and is owned by the same connections as last year’s top juvenile Ivawood. Canford’s presence is also felt in France. Aktoria looks a filly with an exciting future after her success as Deauville over the weekend. Al Jazi is another who won well on debut at Maisons Laffitte. Her trainer Francois Rohaut had a winner at Glorious Goodwood last week.
It’s an exciting time for the stallion. Expect plenty more promising types before the season is over. That flash of brilliance that lit up many a racecourse looks sure to be passed on to a number of his offspring, to thrilling effect.