Queally plays it cool for hot Frankel showdown

Chris McGrath,Racing Correspondent
Monday 21 September 2015 12:39

Not even Frankel will shift at the sort of velocity Tom Queally achieved yesterday, when blurring around the motor circuit at Goodwood in an Audi R8 sportscar at 150mph. But Queally is guaranteed whiter knuckles still when he rides the unbeaten colt in his next engagement, just up the hill, a fortnight tomorrow.

Even so, he is scrupulously resisting the hype infecting the rest of the sport in the build-up to his showdown with Canford Cliffs. Queally knows that he will have to make another high-stakes, high-profile judgement in the Qipco Sussex Stakes. He will be facing a seasoned rival whose acceleration has sealed five consecutive Group One races, most recently at the expense of Goldikova herself, over a sharp, turning track that invariably punishes the jockey who finds himself in the wrong place. The ball is very much in his court, moreover, as he knows Richard Hughes will be determined to produce Canford Cliffs late. And even in getting Frankel home in front at Royal Ascot last month, Queally was widely censured – if not universally – for committing too hard, too soon.

In the circumstances, he can hardly be blamed for playing his cards close to his chest. Admittedly it was not that easy to distinguish the insouciance he professed yesterday, from wariness or even distaste as he dutifully joined the promotion of "The Duel On The Downs". Taken at face value, however, his cool demeanour could not fail to impress at least one of those who joined him in sampling a different type of horsepower yesterday – his rival drivers having included Richard Hannon Jr, son and assistant to the trainer of Canford Cliffs. Asked whether he might have sleepless nights before Goodwood, Queally's pale features broke into a disbelieving grin.

"Sure it's just a horserace," he shrugged. "You do your homework, obviously. And I do care, of course. But you can't let it get to you. Everyone's different but I'm pretty laid back; always have been. You have to treat it all the same."

He professed himself duly impervious to complaints about his Ascot tactics. "I won – and was still getting criticised," he said. "But I'm not going to let it change me, or get to me. I'm a bit more broad-minded than that. If you get criticised, you take it or ignore it. But I'm not going to let it bother me, anyway."

His innate nonchalance is compounded by faith in the freakish gifts of his partner. Sooner or later, Frankel will meet a rival competent to draw him into new territory. "If he got eyeballed?" Queally mused. "Well, he wants to please you. So I imagine if he ever did get in a battle, he'd fight."

In the 2,000 Guineas, Queally and Frankel together stunned their rivals – not to mention everyone else – by ambling a dozen lengths clear by halfway. At Ascot, there was another big, early move. The question now is whether Queally and Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel's trainer, will approach Canford Cliffs with more circumspection?

"There may be contrasting tactics to what we have seen already," Queally said. "From my point of view, all I can do is look for chinks in Canford Cliffs' armour, like in the races he has been beaten in. Frankel is a trier. A lot of horses with that amount of ability get there, prick their ears, pull up and all sorts – not him, he just wants to keep going."

Hughes is taking a break in Portugal, purely to avoid any danger of suspension for the Sussex. In the process, he suggested by a telephone link, the organisers had probably avoided carnage on the motor circuit.

But he would be bringing no fear when it came to the real thing. "I'm a huge admirer of Frankel," he said. "He is probably the best three-year-old over a mile in a long time. I respect him totally. [But that means] I am not afraid to lose. If I beat him, better again. But there would be no disgrace if he beats me."

He even offered Queally a teasing, half-hint. "I thought Olivier Peslier gave Goldikova a brilliant ride at Ascot," he said. "He would not kick – and as long as he didn't, I couldn't. If there had been a better gallop, I probably might have won a bit easier." And if that doesn't keep Queally awake at night, nothing will.

Turf Account

* Chris McGrath's Nap

Ferruccio (8.30 Yarmouth)

Typically progressive for this stable and has shaped as if ready for longer trip – plausibly so – when finding only one too good on consecutive starts at a mile.

* Next best

Hierarch (4.40 Brighton)

Definitely has more ability than this rating, albeit two previous trainers have given up on persuading him to use it.

* One to watch

Maltease Ah (Richard Fahey) did well to burn off those contesting a fierce pace in a nursery at Pontefract last week before fading over the stiff sixth furlong, confirming herself well treated for a test of raw speed.

* Where the money's going

Wonder Of Wonders is 5-4 from 6-4 with Paddy Power for the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Sunday.

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