Glorious Goodwood is yet another highlight in the ever impressive flat season 2011.
And Goodwood is even more eagerly awaited this weekend as we have arguably the greatest duel of the season so far in Frankel vs Canford Cliffs.
The match up pits the two top milers in the world against each other. Both of them are returning from wins at Royal Ascot, Canford Cliffs defeating the wonder mare Goldikova and Frankel beating a strong field in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Frankel is now unbeaten in 7 starts, and is the top horse on ratings, 3lb clear of Canford Cliffs. He also receives a weight for age allowance of 8lb.
That being said, Canford Cliffs is unbeaten in over a year, winning five Group One races in a row. He won this race last year, beating multiple Group One winner Rip Van Winkle, who went on to win the International Stakes at York next time out. The form of both Ascot races has worked out well, with Group One winners emerging from both races in Cape Blanco and Dream Ahead, and although Canford Cliffs is the reigning champion, Frankel is currently the best horse in the world, and if ridden correctly, should win this for his ever-growing band of followers.
The rest of the selections come on Thursday. A horse clearly going in the right direction is CAPTAIN DUNNE, who finally got his deserved victory in the Epsom Dash after unlucky back to back seconds in higher grade company. The Easterby yard is in exceptional form, and he is clearly a horse progressing nicely. He beat a cluster of his rivals last time out and his nearest threat could be recent listed winner Masamah.
OVERTURN is a horse who has been dominating the staying races on the flat in the last two seasons, with the Chester Cup, Northumberland Plate and Galway Plate all on his CV. Trainer Donald McCain opts to run him in the Goodwood Cup rather than the Galway Plate this week in a move that looks sure to suit. The ground was stamina sapping at Newcastle, when he looked to be cruising when running out of gas two out, and the better ground will be a big plus. Richard Hughes is booked to ride, and no one knows Goodwood better than him, an important factor as Overturn is likely to make his own running.
Sir Henry Cecil is renowned for his work with fillies and he seems to have uncovered another potential star in WILD COCO. The daughter of Shirocco slammed her rivals in a maiden, which has worked out unbelievably well, with the second, third and fifth all winning next time out. She then won a listed race next time out, looking to have plenty left in the tank, and the step up to 1m 6f should be no problem at all after running on last time out over 1m 4f.
Goodwood (Wednesday) 3.10 Frankel
Goodwood (Thursday) 2.45 Captain Dunne
Goodwood (Thursday) 3.10 Overturn
Goodwood (Thursday) 3.45 Wild Coco