16 May 2023

Quinn anticipating stern York test for Highfield Princess

16 May 2023

John Quinn feels Highfield Princess faces a “tough enough” test in her bid for back-to-back victories in the 1895 Duke of York Clipper Stakes.

The six-year-old was fit from a winter campaign on the all-weather when landing the Group Two prize 12 months ago, a victory which proved a springboard to a fantastic campaign.

Highfield Princess completed a hat-trick of Group One wins, landing the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the Nunthorpe and the Flying Five Stakes in little over a month before rounding off 2022 with an honourable fourth at the Breeders’ Cup.

Quinn is pleased with how his stable star is training ahead of her reappearance, but is more hopeful than confident about her chances of registering a comeback victory due to the fact she lacks race sharpness and must concede weight all round.

He said: “She’s in good shape, I’m pleased with her. She thrives on racing and I would have liked to have got a run into her, but that wasn’t possible because there wasn’t a race there.

“All her life she’s been getting the mares’ allowance off these horses. You look at a horse like Creative Force, he finished in front of us in America and finished in front of us at Royal Ascot last year when we were getting the mares’ allowance, whereas now she’s got the Group One penalty to carry.

“She deserves it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not going to be simple.”

Win, lose or draw, Quinn hopes his star mare’s outing on the Knavesmire will put her right for a trip to Royal Ascot, where she has the option of running in the King’s Stand and/or the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes.

Every year it has taken her a run or two and now she's swimming in deeper waters

“We’ll get her going, I’m sure she’ll run well and whatever she does we’ll move on,” he added.

“Every year it has taken her a run or two and now she’s swimming in deeper waters.

“She’s in very good nick and I’m not being negative, but when one looks at it, it’s tough enough.”

Chief among her rivals is Creative Force, who suffered a short-priced defeat on his seasonal debut in Newmarket’s Abernant Stakes, but bolted up in a four-runner conditions race at Haydock on Saturday.

The Dubawi gelding’s trainer Charlie Appleby is happy to send him back into battle quickly.

“Creative Force enjoyed himself at Haydock in a race that rode like a piece of work for him,” the Moulton Paddocks handler told www.godolphin.com.

“He was bucking and kicking on Monday morning, while we feel conditions at York could suit him again.

“We will keep an eye on him ahead of the race and, if we continue to be happy with him, he will be good to go.”

Australian sprinters invariably do well on British soil and hopes are high for another Antipodean challenger in The Astrologist.

Beaten just a head when runner-up to Danyah in the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, the Newmarket-based six-year-old will be ridden by Ryan Moore in his warm-up for the Royal meeting.

Troy Corstens, who trains the Zoustar gelding in partnership with his father, Leon, said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing him run at York. I think he’ll run a super race if we get conditions to suit. It’s always been on my bucket list to have a runner over there and I’m very excited.

“Originally the UK trip was sort of pie-in-the-sky stuff and we booked in to go to Dubai for World Cup night. And he ran so well at World Cup night, Nick Smith (director of racing at Ascot) was speaking to us and just said, ‘Would you be interested in coming over?’

“We talked about it and after he ran so well, we thought let’s hit the ‘go’ button and head over. He’s a very good traveller – he travelled a little bit in Australia and really adapted well.

“We were very keen to get a run into him before the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee and the race at York is just an absolute perfect one for him.”

Michael Dods fires a twin assault, with recent Newmarket Listed race winner Azure Blue joined by dual Stewards’ Cup hero Commanche Falls, who finished third behind Creative Force last weekend.

“Azure Blue came out of Newmarket well and obviously likes plenty of cut in the ground. It’s a big step up in class, but she deserves the chance,” he said.

“The problem Commanche Falls has got is he’s too high in the ratings to get in handicaps and he’s probably not quite good enough for a race like this, but we’ve got to run and see how he can cope.

“Ideally he’d be better off in big handicaps like the Wokingham and the Stewards’ Cup, but he can’t get in those off 112.

“He’s in good form and the race was run a bit slow for him on Saturday. He’s come out of it well, so we’ll let him take his chance again.”

Karl Burke’s Gimcrack runner-up Marshman adds extra spice, coming here instead of waiting for Haydock on Saturday week.

“We could have gone for the Sandy Lane, but I just thought those three horses that ran in the Guineas – Sakheer, Little Big Bear and Noble Style – they all might decide to go for the Sandy Lane, so I thought this could be a better place for Marshman,” said Nick Bradley of the owning Nick Bradley Racing syndicate.

“He’s ready to go and we’re keen to see where we are. He’s run really well at York before and it’s a race a lot of my owners would love to win, so I thought we’d give it a go and see what happens.”

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