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Plan comes to fruition as Highfield Princess sets up big sprint campaign

Highfield Princess added another high-profile success to her record as she lifted the Coral All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes at Newcastle.

Winner of the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, John Quinn’ charge also hit the target at Listed level but had been out of luck since then, posting some fine efforts in defeat – most notably when second to Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Space Blues at York in August.

Beaten in three prep runs this year, her supporters kept the faith, sending her off the 15-8 joint-favourite with Internationalangel, and Highfield Princess repaid their confidence with a half-length verdict under Jason Hart.

While she slightly drifted across the track in the finish to the seven-furlong contest, she was always just holding her market rival, with the pair pulling five lengths clear of Rising Star in third.

Sean Quinn, the trainer’s son and assistant, said: “She’s been a good mare and I’d say she’s every bit as good as she’s ever been.

“It’s great because this was the plan. We brought her back a little bit earlier to try to target this race, just because of the excellent prize-money.

“To win it is fantastic and that will set us up nicely for a grass season, hopefully.

“I know dad was thinking about coming back to six (furlongs) for the Duke of York Stakes and there is also a fillies’ Listed race over six on Guineas day (at Newmarket), so we’ve plenty of options and we’ll try to find a bit more black type now.

“It would be great to go back to Royal Ascot with her. There’s no seven-furlong race so it would probably have to be the (Platinum) Jubilee (Stakes).”

Highfield Princess is owned and bred by John Fairley, a former co-producer of Channel 4 Racing, who rated her victory as a personal highlight.

He said: “We televised coverage for a decade, but being in the winner’s enclosure with our own homebred horse is really fantastic.”

Earlofthecotswolds led his rivals a merry dance
Earlofthecotswolds led his rivals a merry dance (Richard Sellers/PA)

Earlofthecotswolds made every yard of the running to lift the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes – sparking jubilant scenes among winning connections.

Trained by Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National-winning handler Nigel Twiston-Davies, Earlofthecotswolds was a dual hurdles winner at the end of last year but has been cutting a swathe through the all-weather ranks in 2022, winning two of his four starts before this event.

Sent to the lead from the off by Liam Keniry, Earlofthecotswolds had to dig deep in the straight as his fellow 100-30 joint-favourite Marshall Plan came with a late challenge under Frankie Dettori.

Try as he might, the runner-up just could not get past the winner, who showed guts aplenty to win by a neck, adding an 11th career success, having struck on the Flat, in bumper company, plus over fences and hurdles.

Twiston-Davies was accompanied by his sons Sam and Willie, with the former enjoying a day off from the National Hunt action while the latter, who retired from riding in 2017, bought the horse as a three-year-old as part of his new career as a bloodstock agent.

Twiston-Davies senior said: “It’s very much down to Willie. When the ground turned a little bit soft, Willie said ‘let’s try him on the Flat’, and then he came up with this all-weather thing!

“He’s quite an ordinary 130-odd rated jumper and he’s turned out to be a horse who has won all this money on the Flat – it’s unbelievable.

“We don’t expect this, but to come and beat all the posh people is nice!

“I think we’ll look towards Royal Ascot. There’s the Queen Alexandra Stakes, or even the Gold Cup – why not? We’ve got to look at it.”

A tearful Willy Twiston-Davies added: “I’m so proud. Ged Mason owns him along with my two best friends, who I met in Las Vegas five years ago to the day.

“I said last year after he got injured at Aintree that we needed to go on the Flat as he loves the all-weather and won a jumpers’ bumper.

“Honestly I never cry – I’m the most hard-nosed man ever, but I’m crying today.

“I love this horse. I’ve done everything with him – I broke him in and got him going. It means a lot.

“We’ll go to Royal Ascot, probably for the Queen Alexandra or even the Gold Cup.”

Bouttemont travelled from France to great effect, as he got the best of a three-way photo in the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes.

Yann Barberot’s charge won his prep race for this event at Chantilly last month, but he was allowed to go off a 10-1 shot in the hands of Gregory Benoist, who kept his mount under wraps through the early stages.

Favourite Ejtilaab and Good Effort were both on the front end from the start, along with Lord Of The Lodge, but all three were swallowed up in the final furlong as Edraak was the first to really go for home down the middle of the track.

Bouttemont and jockey Gregory Benoist
Bouttemont and jockey Gregory Benoist (Richard Sellers/PA)

Spycatcher made his challenge on the far side for Clifford Lee, briefly putting his nose in front, while Benoist came to the stands side.

Bouttemont took the advantage in the final few strides, with Edraak rallying to take a short-head second and Spycatcher the same distance back in third.

Benoist said: “I was confident we would win or finish second and today we are the winner.

“I have worked together with Yann for three years and it is exciting to win a new race together.

“I won the Fillies’ And Mares’ race at Lingfield on Fresles (2015). I was a young man at the time, now I am old!”

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