Quinn backing Highfield Princess to regain winning thread

John Quinn is confident ground conditions will not be a problem for his triple Group One-winning mare Highfield Princess when she bids to get back to winning ways in the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood on Friday.

Expertly handled by the North Yorkshire-based Quinn, she has had a fairytale career, rising through the grades from a 57-rated handicapper to win three top-class sprints last summer. She was also narrowly beaten at the Breeders’ Cup in Keeneland.

A half-length runner-up on her York reappearance, she was then turned out twice in four days at Royal Ascot, narrowly beaten in the King’s Stand and placed again in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes.

She drops back a furlong now, with Quinn optimistic she can make the most of what appears a gilt-edged opportunity.

“We’re happy with her,” said the Malton-based trainer. “Who knows what the ground will be like on Friday, but the ground will be fine – she has won on soft ground before.

“She is in good form and we’re very hopeful. I’m not worried about the draw – it is other horses I worry about!

“You wouldn’t know where they’ll be racing come Friday, but straight line, she’ll be fine.”

Karl Burke saddles both Silky Wilkie, who was runner-up to the reopposing Nymphadora in York’s City Walls, and White Lavender, a short-neck runner-up in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp in October.

Burke said: “It is a bit of a punt with Silky Wilkie. He has done nothing but surprise us and impress us all the way through his career, really.

“We never expected him to get to these heights, but he deserves his chance now in these black type races.

“It is certainly a big step up for him, but he won’t mind the ground, he’ll like the track and with the ground being so soft, it might not suit some of the others. The draw in stall seven is good.”

White Lavender returned to France to take a Group Three in May, but was a little too keen on her last run in the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh.

Burke added: “White Lavender is obviously a high-class sprinter and she’s proven herself in the Abbaye.

“She disappointed herself in Ireland, but she ended up making the running, which wasn’t the plan with her – she has to have a bit of cover and come late.

“Maybe I sent her to Ireland a bit too fresh and she took off with Chris Hayes, and she never finishes her races when she runs like that.

“You can put a line through that run. She seems in good form and she’ll love the ground.”

Charlie Hills has won this race five times in the last six seasons, four times with Battaash (2017-2020) and last season with Khaadem.

He saddles both the hat-trick-seeking Equality, who landed the Coral Charge at Sandown when last seen, and Equilateral, who was a decent fifth to Bradsell in the Group One King’s Stand at Royal Ascot on his last run.

Makarova was a length and a half behind Equality at Sandown and Ed Walker, whose string is in fine form, feels the four-year-old Acclamation filly has plenty to offer now that she is becoming accustomed to running over the minimum trip.

He said: “I’m actually super-excited about this race – she is bouncing. Since dropping back to five (furlongs) she has improved. She is really learning to be a five-furlong sprinter now.

“Last time she really jumped and travelled, where in her previous couple of runs over five, she had slightly been outpaced.

“Prior to Sandown, I would have been a bit worried that this race might have had a bit too much early speed for her, but I think she showed at Sandown she’s got bags of boot.

“She won’t mind the ground at all, but drawn in four isn’t great. That won’t help. It is not ideal.”

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