Highfield Princess has the chance to reassert her dominance on the sprinting division when she defends her Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Flying Five Stakes title at the Curragh on Sunday.
John Quinn’s speedster brought up a phenomenal Group One hat-trick with an emphatic victory in this race 12 months ago and although continuing to be a major player in all the big-sprinting contests, has found success harder to come by this term.
A Group Two triumph at the Qatar Goodwood Festival is the six-year-old’s sole victory this campaign and having gone down fighting with placed efforts in two outings at Royal Ascot before that, again went out on her shield when runner-up to shock Nunthorpe scorer Live In The Dream at York.
She will once again come up against Archie Watson’s King’s Stand winner Bradsell who has become a regular foe this season and connections hope their star mare thrives once again on Irish soil.
“We’re looking forward to it and she’s come out of York well,” said Quinn.
“It’s a tough race and Bradsell is in it and Tim Easterby’s horse (Art Power) who is absolutely dynamite at the Curragh and then there’s a few others as well, but we’re happy with our filly.
“The Curragh suited her last year, so I hope it suits her again on Sunday. Everything has been fine since York and it’s great to have an animal like her. She wears it on her sleeve and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”
Bradsell was a place behind Highfield Princess when they met for a second time on the Knavesmire and his handler will hope to see the mount of Hollie Doyle fare better than when finishing down the field on his previous trip to the Curragh as a two-year-old when he picked up an injury.
However, one horse with no qualms about another venture to Ireland is Art Power who has an imperious record at the Curragh.
Four of the six-year-old’s eight victories have come at the Kildare track and having been in destructive form at the venue twice this term, now seeks to add an elusive Group One success to his CV.
“He seems to have a bit of a love affair with Ireland and seems to find a key couple of lengths over there,” said Alastair Donald, racing manager for owners King Power Racing.
“He has often been a length short in Group Ones over here and we’re looking forward to seeing him.”
Donald went on: “He has won over five furlongs in Ireland before. He’s never been short of pace and it’s quite a stiff five up the hill there, so we’re not worried about the five.
“The ground should be fine and he has a good draw, but obviously Bradsell and Highfield Princess make it a very strong renewal.
“Without being rude to the others it looks to be between the three of them, and if he can show his previous Irish form, he has to be a live contender.”
Yann Barberot’s French raider Bouttemont adds an international flavour to the contest and is an intriguing spare ride for the in-form Dylan Browne McMonagle, while Charlie Hills’ Equality and Clive Cox’s Get Ahead – sixth and eighth in the Nunthorpe respectively – are other visitors from Britain.