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Highfield Princess Bounces Back in King George

You cannot keep a good mare down and it did not take long for Highfield Princess  to bounce back with a dominant success in the Aug. 4 King George Stakes (G2).

Winning came naturally to her last season. She began her campaign on the all-weather before rapidly transforming from a handicapper into one of the best sprinters in Europe, a reputation she cemented with three group 1 wins over a variety of trips in August and September, as well as a fourth at the Breeders’ Cup.

That added an extra layer of expectation but things have not quite gone to plan this season for the versatile 6-year-old. She was second on her first start at York before finishing in the places in two group 1s at Royal Ascot. Luck played a part and those cannot be considered disgraces, but she went three races without a win.

If even the slightest element of doubt was beginning to creep in, it was soon dispelled at Goodwood. She was unsurprisingly sent off an odds-on favorite for this rare outing in group 2 company and was a convincing winner on her first try on the unique five-furlong course, stretching three lengths clear under Jason Hart.

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Runner-up White Lavender , sent off at 28-1, kept on well inside the final furlong to finish clear of Raasel  but never really looked like threatening Highfield Princess.

“Every yard deserves a top-class horse but you don’t always get them,” said trainer John Quinn. “When she was a 2-year-old, she was backwards but very likable. All she’s done since then is improve for racing. She went from being a top-class handicapper to probably the best sprinting filly in Europe, if not the world.”

Hart would certainly not disagree with that. He has had the best seat in the house to witness her development and has clearly loved every moment of it.

“She’s come from lowly beginnings, but she’s reached her peak now,” said the jockey. “She had the form to be a good thing in that race but it was nice to see her go and do the job the way she did. She’s proved herself on all types of ground but I wanted to hold on to her a little bit to make sure she had plenty left for the finish.

“She’s probably the best horse I’ll ever ride and she’s back to form. She means so much to me and has taken my career to new heights. There are lots of good riders and some of them never find a horse like this. She’s got so much character. I thought this was a step back in the right direction and she’ll be even better at York.”

Highfield Princess has won over a variety of trips but after Royal Ascot Quinn decided to target the biggest five-furlong prizes during the second half of the year. Her next stop is the Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) before potential tilts at the Flying Five Stakes (G1), the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1), and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T).

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