Hughes leads dad Hannon to Ascot double

JOCKEY Richard Hughes was the toast of Royal Ascot after leading Canford Cliffs to victory in the big race of the day, the St James’s Palace Stakes, on his way to an opening day double.

The Richard Hannon-trained three-year-old had been beaten by stablemate Dick Turpin in their two previous encounters, but gained sweet revenge over the Irish 2000 Guineas winner to register Ascot success for a second straight year.

“Being on him is like getting into Rolls Royce instead of a Morris Minor,” said Hughes, inset, who later completed a 10-1 Ascot double on Strong Suit in the Coventry Stakes. “The difference is unbelievable. You just sit on him and everything is smooth and is electric. He has so much speed and that’s his forte.”

Hughes held onto the 11-4 favourite before staging a late burst to the line, pipping Ryan Moore’s charge by a length with Pat Eddery’s Hearts of Fire coming home in third.

Riding for father-in-law Hannon, Hughes completed his double aboard Strong Suit, who denied Elzaam on the line and has now been installed as favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Brilliant French mare Goldikova held off a strong finish from Paco Boy to win the Queen Anne Stakes. The 11-8 favourite, ridden by Olivier Peslier, cruised to a ninth Group One victory as 50-1 shot Dream Eater held off Paco Boy for second.

“When she gets to the front, she’s never beaten,” said Goldikova’s trainer Freddie Head. “She is very special.”

Equiano made all the running to claim the King’s Stand Stakes for a second time. The 2008 champion, ridden by Michael Hills, recovered from a stumble in the stalls to score a one-and-a-half length victory over Markab (14-1) and Borderlescott (16-1).