“She’s the best, isn’t she?” » – Highfield Princess wins the Prix Maurice de Gheest | Horse racing news
© APRH / QUENTIN BERTRAND
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Highfield Princess and Jason Hart win the Prix Maurice de Gheest on Sunday
© APRH / QUENTIN BERTRAND
By Scott Burton, France Correspondent
Sunday: Arc Prix Maurice de Gheest, Deauville
Victory in Group 1 Arc Prix Maurice de Gheest was secured by the brilliant execution of not one but two shots.
The first element of foresight was that trainer John Quinn gave Highfield Princess a short break after running an excellent sixth place finish in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, setting Deauville at the start of August as their primary target.
As jockey Jason Hart said afterwards: “When the boss targets a race, he usually never disappoints.”
Quinn’s son and assistant Sean also watched the emergent track bias to Deauville throughout the weekend and rode the course twice.
In the mile handicap that preceded the big one, the group on the other side was miles on the near side halfway and the finish was dominated by high drawn horses. Not good for Hart and Highfield Princess in stall four.
“I was very worried,” Quinn said. “I looked at the latest handicap yesterday and they went the other way, so it didn’t look like she was ideally drawn.
“I walked the track yesterday and again this morning, and it’s quite poached on the grandstand side, so you can see why they went where they went. But we had a game plan to go out on new ground. I believe any part of the middle is fine and it turned out.”
For a yard that consistently punched above its weight at every major Flat festival, the Quinns recorded only their second Group 1 success, eight years after The Wow Signal smashed their way onto the Deauville turf in the Prix Morney. This guarantees that the winner will earn a special place in the Highfield Stables hall of fame.
“She’s the best, isn’t she?” said Sean Quinn. “She’s a Group 1 winner. The Wow Signal won a Group 1 here and they’ve done it now. She is very good and has continued to improve, which is to her credit.
“We had good horses, but it takes one every year to ride and fly the flag. She did.
“We retired a couple of good fillies last year and you’re still wondering if that might leave you a bit bare. But she definitely delivers.”
Quinn added: “It’s fantastic because [her owner] John Fairley is our owner at Highfield Stables and he raised her. It’s massive.”
After such shrewd short-to-medium term planning that paid off in spectacular fashion, the Quinns already have “half an idea” of where the Night Of Thunder girl might end up; youIt’s a kind of “idea” that could mean that the plane tickets have already been booked.
Quinn said: “She’s in Nunthorpe in 12 days, it’ll probably come too soon. I wouldn’t be afraid to travel again when we see how fast she is.
“I think she would win between five and seven. You have Sprint Cups at Haydock, the Flying Five at the Curragh, aDad always half thought about the Breeders’ Cup over five and a half laps at Keeneland. Those are great goals to have.”
Race Post / Scott Burton
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Highfield Princess relations in good spirits after their victory at Maurice de Gheest
Race Post / Scott Burton
Several of the stable’s near misses at Group 1 level since The Wow Signal also featured on Hart’s highlight reel and he was clearly delighted to have landed a first success at the top level with few chances. .
Hart said: “These are the races that everyone wants to participate in and I’ve had a few near misses with El Astronaut at the Abbey and Safe Voyage in the Forest, but it’s good to get here and get a Group 1. That’s what we all work for.
“We didn’t go very fast which I think helped us because we were in the right place to attack when we wanted to.
“She was leaning a bit both ways, hence the [stewards’] investigation, but she was the winner of the game in the end. She was well ahead at the finish.”
After all racing in a peloton, there were a few stories of bad luck behind the winner, but Owen Burrows has nothing to complain about as his Minzaal prevailed in a close battle for second place, edging out Garrus and Rohaan d a head and a nose.
Burrows said: “I’m very happy with the race and he’s a horse that always comes up. Hopefully one day he’ll have his head up. He has been placed in Group 1 at two, three and four now.
“It’s the fastest ground he’s been on, it’s faster than Newbury, which surprised me. He’ll go to Haydock now for the Sprint Cup and hopefully he’ll have a bit more of juice there. He goes most terrain.”
Royal Ascot winner Naval Crown looked set to run a big race but could only manage fifth place, which was two places better than a flat Perfect Power.
Naval Crown rider James Doyle said: “It was a bit of a lackluster race. We had a good place behind the Japanese horse and the winner on the outside, but when I pressed the button nothing didn’t happen.”
Twice placed at Group 1 level this summer, Australian prospect Artorius was another not-to-be-suited how the race went in sixth.
Co-trainer Sam Freedman said: “They just haven’t galloped and if our horse starts running you know he’s going pretty slow. Hopefully we’ll be back next year for another campaign. “
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FIRST POSTED AT 3:11 PM, AUGUST 7, 2022