Frankel can rise above Cliffs

IF you are any sort of racing fan, your diary has surely already been marked for the Duel on the Downs, when Frankel and Canford Cliffs will meet for the title of champion all-aged miler of Europe.

The Group One QIPCO Sussex Stakes takes place at 3.05pm on Wednesday, day two of Glorious Goodwood and, in all honesty, every other event in this great meeting will play second fiddle to this titanic tussle, although Renfrewshire trainer Jim Goldie won't agree as his Hawkeyethenoo has a real chance in next Saturday's Stewards Cup - bet him each way just now.

Frankel, the three-year-old 2,000 Guineas winner trained by Sir Henry Cecil, is up against Canford Cliffs who is going for his sixth Group One victory in succession, a run that includes this race last year.

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It is the most eagerly-awaited clash of recent years and, if Frankel, unbeaten in seven starts, is to be downed by Richard Hannon's four-year-old, then racing history will require to be made.

For there is a single statistic that tells against Canford Cliffs. Throughout most of its early history, the race was confined to three year olds but, since it was opened to four-year-old horses in 1960, no horse has ever won the Sussex Stakes more than once. And since the race was opened to five year olds in 1975, only six four year olds have won it, the last being Soviet Song in 2004.

Three year olds have dominated because the 9lbs weight-for-age allowance gives them a slight advantage.

If Canford Cliffs wins, he will deserve to be acclaimed as the greatest miler of the age, although fans of French star Goldikova will still disagree.

Should Frankel win, as a I fully expect him to do, then he will have to be ranked alongside Rock of Gibraltar - winner of this race in 2002 - as a truly great three-year-old miler. The only question then will be this: can Frankel go on and beat the Rock's still unmatched record of seven Group One victories in a row? To do so he would probably need to race as a four-year-old but owner Khaled Abdullah is a sportsman who loves his horses to race and win and I suspect that he and Cecil will want to keep Frankel on the track, if only to show how brilliant he is.

First of all, he has to beat Canford Cliffs in the Duel on the Downs. Hannon's horse is chasing his own record - win on Wednesday and he will need only to win his next Group One race after that to equal Rock of Gibraltar's record.

Nothing else in the race can surely get too close to the big two. Hannon's other entry is Group One winner Dick Turpin, while Aidan O'Brien's Zoffany got within a length of Frankel in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. They both have a squeak, but really it's all about Frankel and Canford Cliffs.

I take Frankel to win by a length or less. Wednesday just can't come quickly enough.

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