I WAS fortunate to be present at ParisLongchamp last year and experience a taste of the joy enjoyed by owner-breeders John and Kitty Fairley, together with extended family members and close friends, when Highfield Princess swooped to win the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, her fourth success at the highest level.

Now, I can only imagine the pain they are suffering following the news that their wonderful mare, whom they chose to race on rather than go to stud with this year, has died. Clearly a mare who loved her racing, she was an absolute treasure for the Fairley family, trainer John Quinn, and all who cared so lovingly for her. She raced 39 times and was in the first three on 28 occasions, taking her winnings north of €2.17 million. After her last win, she ran sixth in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint.

By the Kildangan Stud-based Night Of Thunder (Dubawi), Highfield Princess was winning for the second time in France when successful on Arc weekend, having previously annexed the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. In Ireland she won the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes, while the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes was the highlight of her victories in Britain. What an advertisement she was for soundness.

John Fairley will never spend 18,000gns more wisely than he did at the 2016 Tattersalls December Sale, on that occasion acquiring the dam of his star mare, Pure Illusion (Danehill). She was carrying Highfield Princess at the time, and her daughter, along with the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes winner Thundering Nights, are from the classic winner’s first northern hemisphere crop.

His first southern hemisphere crop includes the Group 1 Queensland Derby winner Kukeracha.

The best

Highland Princess is one of six winners from the dual winner Pure Illusion, and the best of the rest is the Group 2 July Stakes winning juvenile Cardsharp (Lonhro) who was placed in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. He emerged in the aftermath of Fairley’s purchase of Pure Illusion, and that mare was one of seven winning offspring of the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes winner Saintly Speech (Southern Halo). That Ascot success was the second and last win for the unbeaten mare.

Through another daughter, the French hurdle winner Well Spoken (Sadler’s Wells), Saintly Speech is also the grandam of the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes-placed Chrysanthemum (Danehill Dancer). That dual Group 3 winner is now the dam of a pair of pattern winners, one of which, Maxux (Frankel), won a Group 3 at Gowran Park last year and stays in training.

Saintly Speech is one of three stakes winners, half of all the winners produced by Eloquent Minister (Deputy Minister), Trained by Tommy Stack for Robert Sangster, she won the Listed Doncaster Stakes at two, the Listed Kilfrush/Coolmore EBF Tipperary Sprint at three, and added the Budweiser Garden City B.C. Cup Handicap at Belmont Park after her transfer to the USA.

Her other stakes winners were Woodland Melody (Woodman), successful in the Group 3 Prix du Calvados at Deauville and the Listed Star Stakes at Sandown, and Maruka Diesis (Diesis), and his five wins in Japan at three included the Listed Naruo Kinen.