The hyperbole continues to ring around the media ahead of today’s Sussex Stakes but it is justified and this race has every right to claim it’s ‘race of the year’ tag.
With all respect to Rio De La Plata and Rajsaman, this is a two horse race and in one corner we have Frankel, the unbeaten three-year-old, while in the other corner is a horse looking for his sixth straight Group 1 victory, Canford Cliffs.
Frankel has become the superstar of the Flat season thanks to wins in the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes, but in Canford Cliffs he is taking on a horse who has won all of his last five Group 1 starts.
Victory over Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot just enhanced Canford Cliffs’ reputation but the four-year-old concedes 8lbs to his rival today and that could prove the crucial difference as the race enters the final two furlongs.
Frankel’s reputation goes before him and all of the stats would suggest this race is his for the taking, but one thing to bear in mind is at Royal Ascot last month both horses ran on the same day, on the same going over the same trip and Canford Cliffs was 0.86 of a second faster than the wonderhorse.
Canford Cliffs has posted the quicker time of the two over and his speed shouldn’t be underestimated, but it’s difficult to get away from the fact 69% of the winners of this race since it became a contest for three and four-year-olds have been three-year-olds.
Since becoming a race for three and four-year-olds in 1960, 37 of the winners have been aged three, nine have been four and five have been five or older.
St James’s Palace stakes winners (Frankel) have won three of the last seven renewals of the Sussex Stakes adding more weight to the Frankel argument.
The support will come hard and fast for Frankel all morning but Canford Cliffs is well worth a shot at his current 11/8 price although the weights may ultimately turn this into a huge anti-climax.