A Fourth Group 1 For Night Of Thunder's Highfield Princess In The Abbaye

Highfield Princess | Scoop Dyga


   There were some who were preparing to write off John Fairley's mare of steel Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}–Pure Illusion {Ire}, by Danehill) following her uncharacteristically disappointing effort in the G1 Flying Five at The Curragh last month, but the 6-year-old answered the doubters by simply placing another of the world's big sprints onto her impressive resume as she conquered Sunday's G1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Longines.

While she may not quite be the same supercharged dragster who went through an unprecedented treble at this level in the space of just over a month last summer, the Queen of England's North proved here that when ability drops courage can still elevate.

Working hard from some way out having been cast an unfavourable wide draw, the 2-1 favourite gave her all for Jason Hart to eventually claw back her three-years-younger front-running compatriot Perdika (GB) (Unfortunately {Ire}) inside the last 50 metres and forge a length victory in this “Win and You're In” race for the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Ballydoyle's revived G2 Futurity S.-winning TDN Rising Star Aesop's Fables (Ire) (No Nay Never) managed to force his way into the frame, a short head back as the habitual blanket finish occurred again in behind.

“She won that through pure guts,” Hart said of John Quinn's long-overdue first winner at this prestigious meeting. “She was flat out the whole way–the ground is a bit quick, but she has the heart of lion. It was only in the last 50 yards when the leader tied up that I knew we were going to win. I knew she was back to herself when I worked her a week ago and credit to connections for keeping her in training, as she's got another Group 1. What a mare, she's so tough.”

Although Highfield Princess had done nothing wrong in her Group 1s so far this term, with perhaps valid excuses for her Flying Five no-show last time, it was only in Goodwood's G2 King George S. that she had really shone and that aura of invincibility she had taken into the Breeders' Cup in November was gone by the time she lined up for this. For Quinn, the result was a personal triumph after some near-misses on this fixture in previous years.

“We have had plenty of horses run really well at this wonderful meeting–in the Abbaye, El Astronaute was third, Liberty Beach was beaten two heads and Safe Voyage was beaten two heads in the Foret,” he said. “It is one of the greatest meetings in the world and I hoped I would one day train a winner here and it is wonderful.”

“She tries hard and you could say from where she was drawn she was inconvenienced,” he added. “She toughed it into the race and toughed it out of the race, because two furlongs out she was flat out so fair dues to her. It was a very brave decision to keep her in training, considering she had won three Group 1s in Europe and was probably one of the best fillies around. I'm so pleased they have been totally vindicated. She's shown she's as good as any sprinting mare in the world.”

Quinn is looking for a second try at the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint following her fourth placing at Keeneland last year. “Why not? I will need to speak to my owner, but I would be strongly suggesting it,” he said. “We needed to see how today went and today went very well. I wouldn't rule out the Breeders' Cup or the big sprint at Hong Kong in December. It's John and his family's decision whether she'll race on next year, but as long as she's okay she could go to Santa Anita or Sha Tin.”

Sally Nicholls, owner-breeder of Perdika, was understandably delighted with the game performance of the rapid runner-up. “Her performance took my breath away. She ran so well,” she said. “Her future certainly lies at stud in 2024. A Group 1 placing changes everything regarding her broodmare profile. She loves France and so do we. Now we're going to crack open our piggy bank and send her to a good stallion.”

Aidan O'Brien was looking ahead with Aesop's Fables, who had spent so long in the wilderness but is back where he was last summer. “He ran really well against horses who had already proved themselves at this level,” he said. “He's blossoming as a sprinter right now. I haven't yet decided where we will be going with him next. One thing's for sure, though and that's that we'll be seeing a lot more of him over five furlongs in the future.”


Pedigree Notes

Highfield Princess, who was bred in the Calvados region at the Haras du Camp Benard run by Fabienne Simoes De Almeida and her mother Martine Van De Kerchove, was led out unsold at only 29,000gns when offered at the 2018 Tattersalls December Yearling Sale. Fairley had paid just 18,000gns for the dam Pure Illusion from the Godolphin draft two years earlier at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale and in the meantime, her son Cardsharp (GB) (Lonhro {Aus}) had captured the G2 July S. and had placed in the G1 Middle Park S., G2 Gimcrack S., G2 Richmond S. and G2 Norfolk S.

Pure Illusion is a daughter of the G3 Princess Margaret S. winner Saintly Speech (Southern Halo), who is also the second dam of the G3 Park Express S. and G3 C. L. Weld Park S. winner Chrysanthemum (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) who in turn produced the G3 Sandown Classic Trial scorer Cunco (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and his G3 Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies S.-winning full-sister Maxux (Ire). The family also includes the G3 Prix du Calvados winner Woodland Melody (Woodman), whose listed-winning daughter Shady Reflection (Sultry Song) produced the GII Las Vegas Marathon S. and GIII Greenwood Cup scorer Cary Street (Smarty Jones).



Sunday, ParisLongchamp, France
PRIX DE L'ABBAYE DE LONGCHAMP LONGINES-G1, €350,000, ParisLongchamp, 10-1, 2yo/up, 5fT, :55.07, g/s.
1–HIGHFIELD PRINCESS (FR), 133, m, 6, by Night Of Thunder (Ire)
1st Dam: Pure Illusion (Ire), by Danehill
2nd Dam: Saintly Speech, by Southern Halo
3rd Dam: Eloquent Minister, by Deputy Minister
(29,000gns RNA Ylg '18 TATDEY). O/B-Trainers House Enterprises Ltd (FR); T-John Quinn; J-Jason Hart. €199,990. Lifetime Record: G1SW-Eng & Ire, 38-14-8-6, €2,090,889. *1/2 to Cardsharp (GB) (Lonhro {Aus}), GSW & G1SP-Eng, $355,619. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Perdika (GB), 133, f, 3, Unfortunately (Ire)–Golden Dirham (GB), by Kheleyf. 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. O-Mrs Sally Nicholls; B-Bumble Bloodstock & Mrs Sally Nicholls (GB); T-George Boughey. €80,010.
3–Aesop's Fables (Ire), 137, c, 3, No Nay Never–How's She Cuttin' (Ire), by Shinko Forest (Ire). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. O-M Tabor, D Smith, Mrs J Magnier & Westerberg; B-Barronstown Stud (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien. €40,005.
Margins: 1, SHD, NO. Odds: 2.10, 32.00, 43.00.
Also Ran: Get Ahead (GB), Rogue Lightning (Ire), Makarova (GB), White Lavender (Ire), Kerdos (Ire), Batwan (Fr), Ponntos (Ire), Moss Tucker (Ire), Bouttemont (Ire), Equality (GB), Dramatised (Ire), Tudo Bem (Fr), Equilateral (GB), Art Power (Ire), Asymmetric (Ire). Scratched: Coeur De Pierre (Fr). Video, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. Saturday's Insights: Pricey Night Of Thunder Filly Makes First Start At Keeneland
  2. Romantic Style Downs Ramatuelle in Deauville's Prix Imprudence
  3. Imprudence and Djebel Share Centre Stage on Thursday
  4. Report: Zedan Sues Churchill in Attempt to Force Track to Accept Baffert Entries
  5. Baaeed's Half-Brother Back At Newcastle

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.