York: Highfield Princess Back on the Knavesmire to Defend Nunthorpe Crown

Highfield Princess | PA Media


   Friday sees the G1 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe S. take centre stage at York with the returning heroine of last year Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) the star turn in the line-up for the Win-and-You're-In contest ahead of the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Emphatic 12 months ago when dismissing the 2-year-old The Platinum Queen (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}), the John Quinn-trained 6-year-old has to do it all again with another juvenile Big Evs (Ire) (Blue Point {Ire}) lurking with his 21-pounds weight-for-age swing.

Having come up short against the revitalised TDN Rising Star Bradsell (GB) (Tasleet {GB}) in the G1 King's Stand S. and finished third in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee S. at the beginning and end of Royal Ascot, there was a question mark over whether the formidable mare retained her level of last season. Having brushed off those doubts when regaining her dominant aura in the G2 King George S. at Goodwood earlier this month, she returns to the track at which she also won the 2022 G2 1895 Duke Of York S.

“It's a spicy race,” Quinn said. “When a three-year-old wins a King's Stand you have to sit up and take notice and the two-year-old is a Royal Ascot winner and a Goodwood winner and looks really tough, hardy and mature, so they are two and something else could pop up who at their best could be in the mix. Goodwood was very good, so we're hopeful anyway. She's done so much and people expect plenty from her, but she seems in good nick and she loves this place, which is all you can ask.”

Bradsell, who also went through a fallow period after his G2 Coventry S. success last June, was remarkably having his first try at this five-furlong trip when upstaging Highfield Princess at this year's Royal Ascot but he has to do it on the flat, fast strip which offers such a contrast to the Berkshire venue. “We thought he might not have as much early speed as the Australian sprinters, but he showed more speed than ever before and really thrived down in trip,” Hollie Doyle said of the King's Stand performance. “He's our flagbearer at Archie's and it's great to be going to the Nunthorpe with a live chance again.”

The Mick Appleby-trained Big Evs, one of the key members of his remarkable sire's first crop, has been added at a cost of £40,000 following his Listed Windsor Castle S. and G3 Molecomb S. successes with his connections hoping they have timed it right with that huge weight concession. Clipper Logistics' TDN Rising Star Dramatised (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) won the G2 Queen Mary S. last year and the G2 Temple S. on her 3-year-old bow and this could be ideally poised if she can put a disappointing effort in the King's Stand behind her.

“It was a non-event at Ascot, we thought we were drawn on the wrong side,” the owners' racing manager Joe Foley said. “Danny [Tudhope] came in and said he looked up two furlongs out and they were a long, long way behind. Also the ground was quite dead on the first day of Ascot and she needs fast ground, hence we missed the King George at Goodwood. She has been working very, very well, so it'll be interesting to see where she stands with the proper group one sprinters now that she is a mature three-year-old and is getting her ground.”


TDN Rising Star Johannes Brahms Heads Gimcrack cast…
In the G2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack S., Ballydoyle are represented by TDN Rising Star Johannes Brahms (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}), still exciting and unexposed having chased home Big Evs in the Windsor Castle over an inadequate five furlongs. Ryan Moore already knows all about the impressive Listed Dragon S. winner Kylian (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), who may have been compromised by Goodwood's soft ground when third in the Molecomb, so major market support for the Aidan O'Brien raider will be significant.

“I rode Kylian in the Molecomb and we didn't see the best of him there,” Moore said. “He may be the one to beat, up in trip, but Johannes Brahms is a colt with improvement in him. He already brings a good level of form to the table, winning over sic furlongs on his debut and then chasing home Big Evs stepped down to five in the Windsor Castle, and he is a horse I like.”

This is always tough and the presence of the G2 Vintage S. winner Haatem (Ire) (Phoenix Of Spain {Ire}) and Clipper Logistics' highly-regarded Newmarket novice scorer King's Gamble (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) are another two to stand out. The latter, who is trained by Ralph Beckett, earned a supplementary entry with his performance on debut and Joe Foley explained, “He's a horse that we will probably step up to seven soon, but Danny Tudhope thought he showed a lot of speed at Newmarket that Friday and the sectionals backed that up, so we thought we would give the Gimcrack a go.”


Courage Mon Ami On Retrieval Mission In The Lonsdale Cup…
Another who failed to shine at Goodwood's Qatar Festival was Wathnan Racing's G1 Gold Cup hero Courage Mon Ami (GB) (Frankel {GB}), who became like so many others lost in the backwash behind Quickthorn (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in the G1 Goodwood Cup. Having learned from that experience, connections will possibly be looking for a change of tactics in Friday's G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup. John Gosden is hoping the 4-year-old can put up a fight this time. “We all know the Goodwood Cup was an interestingly different sort of race and not dissimilar to the Lonsdale last year, really,” he said. “He couldn't get a run and then when he did get a run, the race was over. So, he had what I call a nice racecourse gallop, really!”

Quickthorn, who had given forewarning to his Goodwood rivals with a 14-length beating of Coltrane (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) in this 12 months ago, is the enviable mount of Tom Marquand who understands just how fast to go throughout the early stages of these staying contests. “In the Lonsdale, he pretty much ran away with me if I'm honest,” he admitted. “I was going to make the running, but I didn't intend to go that fast and he was doing too much really. But he's a lot more measured now and at Goodwood he never felt as though he was going that quick. Hughie [Morrison] has done an amazing job having Quickthorn right on the day so far and he's no one-trick pony. Far from it. He doesn't have to make the running, so long as he finds a rhythm and is in his comfort zone and he only has to beat horses he has beaten before.”

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