May 30, 2023

Highfield Princess punches BC Turf Sprint ticket in Nunthorpe

Highfield Princess stayed hot in the Nunthorpe (Photo courtesy of Breeders' Cup/Eclipse Sportswire)

Wheeling back 12 days after taking the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1), and shortening up to five furlongs, were no problem for Highfield Princess, who turned a quick Group 1 double in Friday’s Nunthorpe (G1) at York. The peaking five-year-old booked her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), and connections are eager to take up the “Win and You’re In” perks.

Trained by John Quinn and piloted by Jason Hart, Highfield Princess drafted a couple of lengths behind speedy two-year-old filly The Platinum Queen. The 9-2 youngster had most of the field out of their comfort zone as she blazed the way under her light weight. But Highfield Princess, spotting her 24 pounds, had the pace to keep up, and ultimately serve it up, to the juvenile. Khaadem also tried to challenge, only to fade late, leaving the females to fight out the finish.

Highfield Princess caught The Platinum Queen entering the final furlong and surged 2 1/2 lengths clear. The 5-1 chance clocked :57.18 and advanced her scorecard to 29-11-5-5.

The Platinum Queen rewarded her Middleham Park connections for supplementing her, finishing second by 1 1/2 lengths. The Richard Fahey filly reportedly could try elders again in the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) on Arc Day, or revert to her own age group in the Sept. 9 Flying Childers (G2) at Doncaster. She’d be a natural type for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).

Emaraaty Ana picked up well to grab third and round out an all-Yorkshire trifecta. The Kevin Ryan veteran, who was second in this race a year ago, was turning in his best result since a fourth in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. This will set him up for a title defense in the Sept. 3 Haydock Sprint Cup (G1).

Khaadem fared best of those racing on the inside in fourth. Next came Dragon Symbol; 5-2 favorite Royal Aclaim, whose trainer, James Tate, noted was arguably on the wrong part of the course in post 2; Lazuli; Raasel; Acklam Express; Flotus; Clarendon House; New York City; and defending champion Winter Power, yet to recapture her old form. Ebro River and Ainsdale were withdrawn.

A homebred for John Fairley’s Trainers House Enterprises, Highfield Princess has now won four of her past five. The sequence started in the Apr. 15 All-Weather Fillies’ and Mares’ Championships over seven furlongs at Newcastle. She cut back to six furlongs in the May 11 Duke of York (G2) here and produced a decisive display over males. Following a close sixth of 24 in the Platinum Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot, Highfield Princess reached another level at Deauville and backed it up on Friday.

The Night of Thunder mare has come a long way since her days as a lowly Class 6 handicapper. Progressing through the handicap ranks as a three-year-old in 2020, Highfield Princess graduated to a listed stakes and borderline Group performer in 2021. She earned her first stakes victory in the Queen Charlotte Fillies’ S. on the Chelmsford Polytrack and placed in the Oak Tree (G3) and City of York (G2) (to future Breeders’ Cup Mile [G1] star Space Blues).

Out of the Danehill mare Pure Illusion, the French-bred is a half-sister to Group 2 winner Cardsharp. This is also the immediate family of multiple Group 3 scorer Chrysanthemum.

Given her proficiency on all-weather and at seven furlongs, the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) on the Keeneland dirt has also been mentioned as a possible objective. The Nunthorpe should tilt the scales, though, in favor of the Turf Sprint.