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WATCH: Frankel hangs on to maintain unbeaten record

Trainer Henry Cecil says mouth-watering clash with Canford Cliffs and Goldikova is “inevitable.”

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated 16.40

FRANKEL UNDERLINED HIS superstar credentials at Royal Ascot this afternoon, following up his blistering 2,000 Guineas victory by grinding out a three-quarter length victory over Zoffany in the St. James’ Palace Stakes.

Sent off as 3/10 favourite, Henry Cecil’s three-year-old improved his career record to seven wins out of seven with a run that briefly threatened to be more memorable than his gallop at Newmarket last month.

After reeling in his pacemaker Rerouted, the colt blasted into a commanding lead as they turned for home, his winning margin only reduced when he started to tire close to the line.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Zoffany chased Tom Queally’s mount all the way home, with Excelebration, runner-up to Frankel in the Greenham two months ago, rounding out the places.

Speaking afterwards, trainer Henry Cecil explained away Frankel’s diminishing winning margin, saying that the horse thought he had done enough once he hit the front.

Tom said when he was in front a furlong out he thought he’d done enough. He said he was getting really idle which is good in a way as it means we can ride a normal race on him.

The plan was to kick on rounding the bend as he had done in the Royal Lodge (here) last year, but now he’s getting wiser and he thought he’d done enough, rather like in the Guineas.

Frankel’s next outing is likely to be be in either the Sussex or the Juddmonte, with Cecil conceding that a mouth-watering clash with the sport’s other superstar milers, Canford Cliffs and Goldikova, was “inevitable.”

Earlier this afternoon, the 2011 festival got off to the perfect start when those two went head-to-head in the Queen Anne Stakes, with Canford Cliffs  (11/8) holding off  Goldikova (5/4F) to win by a length.

The day’s opening race went as expected with Goldikova’s pacemaker, Flash Dance, following the Aidan O’Brien-trained Cape Blanco into an early lead. The two favourites were never far behind though, and when Olivier Peslier gave Goldikova the nod to push on past the tiring leaders with just over a furlong to go, Richard Hughes and Canford Cliffs followed closely behind her.

From then on, it was the race which the punters had hoped for as the six-year-old Goldikova, hoping for a fourteenth Grade One success, sought to hold the younger colt at bay. Canford Cliffs always looked the stronger in the closing exchanges however, heading the defending champion and holding on for a deserved one-length victory, with Cityscape finishing in third.

Speaking afterwards, winning jockey Richard Hughes was effusive in his praise for Canford Cliffs, unbeaten in his two outings this season.

“I’ve said since the first day I rode him he was an amazing horse,” Hughes said.

“I didn’t want to miss the kick and I got lucky that I landed behind Goldikova and I was riding with gentlemen like Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori who could have made it difficult for me, they didn’t and I got right in her slipstream.

He’s an amazing horse. The best I’ve ever ridden.

Mark Your Card: Royal Ascot Day One >

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Niall Kelly

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