It’s been billed as the match race of the decade and while it may be happening half a world away there’s plenty of Australian interest in tonight’s Sussex Stakes.
The unbeaten Frankel goes one on one with Canford Cliffs at Goodwood in one of the most anticipated contests in history.
Both horses are considered by their world class trainers to be the best they’ve ever had, not bad considering they have more than 100 years training experience between them.
Richard Hannon has the challenger, a rare position for a horse which has won so well in his last few races but Canford Cliffs is still being given every chance.
“Unfortunately, one of them will be beaten,” Hannon said.
“I don’t know who is going to win. It will be very interesting to see what happens.
“Once Richard (Hughes) had Canford Cliffs settled as a three-year-old, it all happened from there.
“He is probably at his peak now. He is a strong horse and going well.
“In a small field, you just wonder where the pace will come from but whatever Richard does in the race is OK with me – he is a top-class jockey. He knows the horse better than anybody else.
“The only thing that would worry me is that last year he did not like coming down the hill at Goodwood particularly well but he is a year older now and a more mature horse so I don’t think it will be a problem.”
It’s a confidence felt by Hughes as well.
“Canford Cliffs looks better than ever. I think he is a little bit like Sea The Stars – he will just do what he has to do,” he said.
“He will go by whatever is in front of him. No matter what you follow, he will go by it – you feel he will go by anything.
“Head-to-head at the furlong pole would be nice to see and then the best horse will win.”
In the other corner it’s a Frankel, a horse which has put lengths on any horse he’s faced so far in his career.
The manner of his victories have astounded even the oldest racing observers and he’s risen to equal first on the World Throughbred Ratings list alongside the Australian superstar Black Caviar.
Because of that he’s the favourite for the Sussex Stakes but only narrowly in what is effectively a one on one matchup.
To be fair there are two others in the race, Rajsaman and Rio De La Plata need to produce one of the biggest upsets of all time to knock off both champions.
Hughes knows that to get his horse over the line he’ll need to be the first jockey ever to get ahead of Frankel, a challenge he says he’s up for.
“Frankel is a brilliant three-year-old and probably as good a miler (1600m) of his age as I have seen, but Canford Cliffs has improved so much since last year and, for me, he is far away the more straightforward of the two,” Hughes said.
“They went off very fast at Royal Ascot and Frankel settled I sat second on Dubawi Gold and could not live with the pace but I can’t see where the pace is going to come from at Goodwood and I will be surprised if Tom Queally does not make the running on Frankel.
“However, Canford Cliffs is a bit like Sea The Stars in that he’ll only do enough.
“Sometimes you are not certain whether he is going to change gear and then he explodes into overdrive, and I don’t think that there is a horse in the world that he won’t go by.
“I wouldn’t be worried about the track or a small field, it is a mile, it is not too undulating, just the two horses on the day. The tactics will be interesting for sure.”