Canford Cliffs Wins Clash of Milers

One of the most eagerly awaited contests of the week was the first day’s opening contest, the Queen Anne Stakes (gr. I, video below). Run over the straight mile, it brought together the 6-year-old mare Goldikova, winner of three straight runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I), and the 4-year-old colt Canford Cliffs, coming off four consecutive group I wins, including the Lockinge Stakes (gr. I) on his seasonal reappearance.

The principals delivered the anticipated battle, Goldikova committing herself two furlongs from home with Canford Cliffs on her tail. The mare battled bravely when tackled by the colt, but Canford Cliffs asserted in the last 100 yards to score by a length. Canford Cliffs’ jockey, Richard Hughes, said the pair quickened several times in the run to the wire. Goldikova’s jockey, Olivier Peslier, put up 2 lbs. overweight, enough in theory to have brought the pair very close together, and it’s a fair bet that no horse in the world could beat Canford Cliffs over a mile on turf at 2 lbs. worse than age and sex. Going by Racing Post ratings, Goldikova has only run better once, when destroying the field in the 2009 Prix Jacques Le Marois (gr. I), so the race has to be seen as an outstanding effort by victor and vanquished. An interest in Canford Cliffs – who has now won on opening day at Royal Ascot for three straight years – has been purchased by Coolmore, and he’ll be at stud in Ireland next year, and we also think he could be a good prospect to shuttle to Australia.

Canford Cliffs stems from a uniquely Irish-branch of a U.S. male line. His grandsire, the handsome Taufan, was an English 2-year-old group II winner by Stop the Music out of Stolen Date, a half sister to Best in Show. Canford Clifs’ sire, Tagula, the best son of Taufan, won the Prix Morny (gr. I) and July Stakes (gr. III) at 2, and the Supreme Stakes (gr. III) at 3, as well as earning thirds in the Dewhurst Stakes (gr. I) and French 2,000 Guineas (gr. I). He’s been a useful sire in Ireland, but Canford Cliffs is only his third group winner, and first group I winner.

Canford Cliffs is out of Mrs. Marsh, by Marju (by Last Tycoon), and a half sister to minor U.S. stakes winner Pina Colada. The second dam, Drei, is by Lyphard out of the Raise a Cup mare Triple Tipple, a listed winner and group-placed in Europe, and two-time graded winner in the U.S.

Canford Cliffs is the product of a cross that’s had limited opportunities, but his pedigree is not without interest. He has the mare Stolen Hour 4x7, and she is combined with Buckpasser (dam Busanda a three-parts-sister to Mr. Busher, the sire of Stolen Hour). Canford Cliffs' grandsire, Taufan, has Buckpasser’s sire Tom Fool close up with Stolen Hour. Overall, we can find Stolen Hour together with Buckpasser in at least 85 stakes winners, 18 group or grade I, including Empire Maker, Redoute's Choice (AUS) (TrueNicks,SRO), Rags to Riches, Grey Swallow, Peeping Fawn, Jazil (TrueNicks,SRO), and Sincero.

Another mile event that was keenly anticipated was the St. James’s Palace Stakes (gr. I, video below), which saw the reappearance of Frankel (TrueNicks A+), following his devasting 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) triumph. Set alight nearly half a mile out, he duly won, but was hanging on at the end to get home by ¾ length from Zoffany (by Dansili). Connections felt that Frankel was idling in front, but the impression from watching was that he was getting very tired. We’ve dealt with Frankel’s pedigree on several previous occasion, but to briefly recap he is by Galileo out of the stakes winning sprinter Kind (by Danehill), a half sister to the top-class Sadler’s Wells horse Powerscourt (GB) (TrueNicks,SRO). The Galileo/Danehill cross has produced 10 stakes winners from 63 starters, including a trio of 2011 Guineas winners in Frankel, Roderic O’Connor (Irish 2,000 Guineas (gr. I)), and Golden Lilac (French 1,000 Guineas (gr. I)). On the Sunday prior to Royal Ascot, Golden Lilac added the French Oaks (gr. I), getting home by a length from the strong closing Galikova, who is another Galileo daughter, and who is a half sister to Goldikova.

Arguably, Oasis Dream is inferior only to Galileo among European sires, and he underlined his status on Royal Ascot’s opening day with two group winners. In the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes (gr. I, video below), 6-year-old gelding Prohibit scored from a field that contained runners from eight different countries. Rated TrueNicks A on the basis of the cross of Green Desert line stallions over daughters of Prohibit’s broodmare sire, Warning, Prohibit is a half brother to stakes winners Prior Warning (by Barathea) and Emergency (by Dr. Fong). The dam, Well Warned, is a group-placed half sister to U.S. graded winner Out of Reach. The granddam, Well Beyond, is a stakes-winning daughter of Mariakova (by The Minstrel), a sister to Zaizafon, from the Juddmonte foundation mare Mofida, this being the family that has also produced Midday (another Oasis Dream), Reams of Verse, Elmaamul, Zafonic, Zamindar, and Regal Parade, to name a few.

Oasis Dream’s second group winner on the day was Power, who took the six-furlong Coventry Stakes (gr. II, video below) for 2-year-olds. He is out of Frappe, a daughter of Inchinor. Inchinor is a son of Ahonoora, and another son of that horse, Don’t Forget Me, sired the granddam of Prohibit, so Ahonoora is in the dams on both of Oasis Dream’s 2011 Royal Ascot scorers. This is a version of the Green Desert/Ahonoora cross that has most notably produced Cape Cross (sire of Sea the Stars and Ouija Board). The dam has produced a previous Royal Ascot winner in the Unfuwain filly Thakafaat, who took the Ribblesdale Stakes (gr. II). Frapper is a half sister to Footstepsinthesand, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas (gr. I).

Another 2-year-old event, the five-furlong Windsor Forest Stakes, went to Frederick Engels (TrueNicks A++). Frederick Engels is from the second crop of the prematurely deceased Polar Falcon horse Iceman (winner of the Coventry Stakes (gr. II) at Royal Ascot). Another member of his second crop, Dijarvo, won the Prix La Fleche in France last week. Frederick Engels is out of Colonel’s Daughter, who is by the El Gran Senor horse Colonel Collins. There appears to be a bit of magic about the combination of Polar Falcon and El Gran Senor, as Polar Falcon and his sons Pivotal and Iceman all have stakes winners on the cross, and from only seven starters. There are also three stakes winners from the sire line out mares by Last Tycoon (by El Gran Senor’s brother Try My Best) from only 15 starters.

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