Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)
HIGHFIELD Princess has been one of the great racing stories of the past couple of seasons, and John Quinn’s remarkable mare marked the zenith of her career by adding the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes to her CV on what was just her second ever venture over five furlongs.
It’s less than a fortnight since the daughter of Night Of Thunder had landed the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest over six and a half furlongs at Deauville, which makes this performance all the more stunning.
The 5/1 shot always travelled supremely well under Jason Hart as they stalked leader The Platinum Queen (Richard Fahey/Hollie Doyle) through the early stages, and with the leader setting a pace which most of the others struggled to match, the pair dominated from start to finish.
For a while, it looked like The Platinum Queen might make the 22lb-plus she was receiving from all her rivals count, but she began to run around under pressure with under two furlongs to run.
That was all the invitation Hart and Highfield Princess needed, quickly drawing up to challenge and then breezing past as The Platinum Queen tried to rally.
Although the juvenile managed to pull away from the others, she had no answer to the winner, who put two and a half lengths between them at the line.
Last year’s runner-up Emaraaty Ana (Kevin Ryan/Kevin Stott) did his best work late to finish a four-length third. It’s worth noting that those drawn high had the best of it here, with the first three drawn 14, 13 and 11, while widest-drawn Dragon Symbol was fifth.
The draw certainly helped the principals here, but Highfield Princess scored in such commanding fashion that it’s hard to think she wouldn’t have won the race however the field were arranged. The lingering doubt as to her effectiveness at the trip was put to bed early given how powerfully she travelled despite being unable to bag an early lead as is her wont.
Once again, locally trained fillies came up trumps, and the Nunthorpe has now gone to a filly or mare winning 12 of the last 31 renewals, with the winner also trained in Yorkshire for the fifth time since 2015.
Quinn remarked afterwards: “We put her in the Foret and the Abbaye, so all being well two more runs – Foret or Abbaye, and the Breeders’ Cup. I’m delighted to have her.”
Hart appreciated the home win: “She gave me my first Group 1 winner a couple of weeks ago and it probably means more today to do it on home soil. She deserved it.”