Horse talk with Simon Jackson

CANFORD Cliffs has been installed at the head of market for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday and is selected to land his fourth Group 1 race of the season.

The Richard Hannon trained three-year-old has justified his connections’ high opinion of him after blitzing a top class field in the Coventry last year.

This season he was forced to settle for second behind stablemate Dick Turpin on his reappearance after looking to have the race at his mercy.

But the penny dropped at his next start when he was third behind Makfi in the 2000 Guineas.

He followed up with a trio of Group 1 wins, bagging the Irish 2000 Guineas and St James Palace Stakes, then completing the hat-trick with a neck win over Rip Van Winkle in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Makfi and Rip Van Winkle re-oppose and are offered at 9-4 and 7-2 respectively with totesport who believe the favourite will be hard to beat.

“Canford Cliffs holds all the aces ahead of the QEII having beaten both Makfi and Rip Van Winkle earlier on in the season,” said totesport spokesman George Primarolo.

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“But both those horses have since won at the top level so we should be in for an absolute cracker at Ascot on Saturday.”

Makfi caused an upset of sorts when landing the 2000 Guineas at 12-1. He shared favouritism with Canford Cliffs in the St James Palace Stakes at his next start but was never in contention, finishing seventh.

He reappeared in August with a win over the classy Goldikova in a Group 1 in Deauville on very soft ground.

But while he has legitimate claims in Saturday’s contest, his trainer Mikel Delzangles was reported as saying this week that Makfi’s principal target is the Breeders Cup.

“He [Makfi] is pleasing me as much now as he has done all year,” Delzangles said to the Sporting Life this week.

“I’m not too worried that it has been dry at Ascot recently, it was fast ground when he won the Guineas.

“The Breeders’ Cup is his main objective, I have to say, rather than this week. It is very exciting to be coming up against Canford Cliffs again, it should be a good match.”

Rip Van Winkle is a better bet to fill the second place.

He followed up his second to Canford Cliffs with a win in the Juddmonte at York before finishing second to Cape Blanco in a Group 1 at Leopardstown earlier this month.

The best each way bet may be Poet’s Voice, a 16-1 shot with totesport, who has been supplemented by Godolphin at a cost of �20,000.