Night Of Thunder's Highfield Princess Outclasses King George Rivals

Highfield PrincessGoodwood Racecourse


John Quinn's stable star Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}–Pure Illusion {Ire}, by Danehill) took four starts to get rolling last year and provided symmetry to her profile with another post-Summer Solstice springboard in Friday's G2 King George Qatar S. at Goodwood.

Last term's G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, G1 Nunthorpe and G1 Flying Five heroine broke sharply from the traps and was under a firm grip in second as habitual pacesetter Ponntos (Ire) (Power {GB}) led the way at a healthy clip. Cruising to the front on the bridle passing the quarter-mile marker, the 4-9 favourite was not for catching thereafter and powered clear under mild coaxing inside the final furlong to easily outclass White Lavender (Ire) (Heeraat {Ire}) by three lengths. Fellow outsider Raasel (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) lost out by a neck in a bobbing finish for the minor placings.

“Highfield Princess ran really well in the [G2] Duke Of York and maybe got a bit tired,” Quinn said. “At Royal Ascot, she was beaten just a length in the [G1] King's Stand and then, four days later in the [G1] Jubilee, she ran another fantastic race. We decided to give her a break, which we did last summer, and we were pleased with her at home. She is a 6-year-old mare and, fair dues to her, she has bounced back well. She is a top-class filly and we are delighted to have her. All she has done is improve for racing and gone from being a top-class handicapper to being the best sprinting filly in Europe, if not the world. I was very keen for her to get her head in front for herself and today will have done her a lot of good. Group 2 races are so hard to win as well, but she had run here two years ago in the [G3] Oak Tree and handled the track lovely, so we thought she'd handle the track. We thought maybe, just maybe, this might be easier than, for instance, the [G1] Maurice de Gheest which we decided to miss.”

Highfield Princess will now prepare for a defence of her Nunthorpe and Flying Five titles, according to Quinn. “The plan is to go back for the Nunthorpe in our back yard and she really loves The Curragh, so it'll be the Nunthorpe and then back to Ireland and we will see after that,” he revealed. “I had thought about going to Australia, but I am a little bit cooler on that now. We will stay in Europe and then possibly go to the Breeders' Cup. She is a very good filly to travel and the lads always say you wouldn't know she was in the horse box, which is very good.”

It was business as usual for rider Jason Hart, who added, “Highfield Princess was her usual self. She jumped well, travelled great, and was much the best. The Czech horse [Ponntos] gave me a lead and I was kind of hoping he would give me a lead for a bit further. I had to commit a furlong-and-a-half down and, on that dead ground, I thought it might blunt her turn of foot, but she has won well. I was keen to give her a race without really getting stuck in. She absolutely ran her heart out in those two races at Royal Ascot and it was nice to see her bounce back and get her head back in front and win by a bit of distance. She has always improved throughout the years and has got better with her racing.”

White Lavender's rider Clifford Lee was satisfied with the performance of the runner-up and envisages another crack at ParisLongchamp's G1 Prix de l'Abbaye later in the year. “I am delighted with the run and she travelled really well throughout the race. She picked up nicely going for the two-furlong pole and we were beaten by a very good horse. She was second in the Abbaye last year, giving a lot of weight away, and she would definitely go close in that sort of race. She's very consistent and tries very hard.”

Raasel's trainer Mick Appleby was delighted with his charge's effort, who finished unplaced over the same strip in Tuesday's Coral H., and reflected, “Raasel has run a blinder. I think, in a way, we probably wish we didn't run on Tuesday, but we still wouldn't have beaten the winner. We might have got second, possibly, and he has shown that he has still got it. The draw made a big difference, he was drawn in the middle and needs loads of cover. The other day he was drawn on the wing and he just does too much when he's got daylight. I am not sure yet where we are going to go next and we will probably give him a bit of a break now. He's had a hard week this week, so we will give him a few weeks and then look to see where we go from there.”

Pedigree Notes

Highfield Princess is the ninth of 10 foals and one of six scorers thrown by a multiple-winning daughter of G3 Princess Margaret S. victrix Saintly Speech (Southern Halo), herself a half-sister to G3 Prix du Calvados winner Woodland Melody (Woodman) and Listed Naruo Kinen-winning sire Maruka Diesis (Diesis {GB}). Saintly Speech is the second dam of G3 Park Express S. winner Chrysanthemum (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), herself the dam of G3 Sandown Classic Trial-winning sire Cunco (Ire) (Frankel {GB}). Descendants of Woodland Melody include GII Las Vegas Marathon and GIII Greenwood Cup victor Cary Street (Smarty Jones). The May-foaled homebred bay is a half-sister to G2 July S. winner and G1 Middle Park S. third Cardsharp (GB) (Lonhro {Aus}).

Friday, Goodwood, Britain
KING GEORGE QATAR S.-G2, £300,000, Goodwood, 8-4, 3yo/up, 5fT, :58.92, g/s.
1–HIGHFIELD PRINCESS (FR), 127, 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. £170,130. Lifetime Record: G1SW-Eng, Fr & Ire, 35-13-7-6, $1,875,821. *1/2 to Cardsharp (GB) (Lonhro {Aus}), GSW & G1SP-Eng, $355,619. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–White Lavender (Ire), 127, m, 5, Heeraat (Ire)–Goodnight And Joy (Ire), by Rip Van Winkle (Ire). O-Mrs Barbara M Keller; B-Paul McCartan (IRE); T-Karl Burke. £64,500.
3–Raasel (GB), 130, g, 6, Showcasing (GB)–Dubai Affair (GB), by Dubawi (Ire). (80,000gns Ylg '18 TAOCT; 10,000gns 3yo '20 TATHRA). O-The Horse Watchers; B-Bearstone Stud (GB); T-Michael Appleby. £32,280.
Margins: 3, NK, 1 1/4. Odds: 0.44, 28.00, 22.00.
Also Ran: Makarova (GB), Kerdos (Ire), Ponntos (Ire), Equality (GB), Nymphadora (GB), Silky Wilkie (Ire), Ladies Church (GB), Equilateral (GB).


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