Princess aims for new heights in Oak Tree Stakes

John Quinn believes recent rainfall at Goodwood could help Highfield Princess negate her awkward draw in stall 17 in the Whispering Angel Oak Tree Stakes.

On a quicker surface, Quinn admits his rapidly-improving filly might have too much to do on Wednesday, being drawn widest of all, but has hopes the middle of the course may not be disadvantageous in testing conditions.

The story of Highfield Princess is something of a fairytale – because this time last year she was rated 57. Seven wins later, including a Royal Ascot success in the Buckingham Palace Stakes, she is rated 100.

“She’s certainly earned a crack at this. I’ve never had a filly improve as much as she has,” said Quinn.

“This time last year she was no better than selling class really, yet 12 months later she’s in Group races. It’s incredible.

“She was phenomenal at Royal Ascot, and the horse she beat there (Danyah) came out and won the International on Saturday – and she beat him well. That’s very good form.

“We took her from there to Chelmsford, where she won a Listed race, and that came soon enough after Ascot – where you never have an easy race – but she’s had 24 days since then and she seems absolutely fine.”

He added: “She hasn’t got the best draw in the world – but with the ground getting softer, you just don’t know. She might be OK out there.

“She obviously likes the big fields. There were 28 at Ascot, and she’s a real straightforward filly – no fuss or frills.

“On quick ground, drawn out in 17 would leave her a lot of running to do, but on softer ground it might not be quite as bad as it looks.”

Charlie Fellowes is similarly pleased the rain has arrived for his two contenders – Vadream and Onassis, who were last seen finishing second and fourth respectively in a Group Three at York.

Onassis after winning at Royal Ascot last year
Onassis after winning at Royal Ascot last year (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“The soft ground definitely makes it interesting from my point of view,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“Vadream ran on very soft ground at Ascot, and it was probably a career-best when she was third in the Jersey. I think she probably goes on any ground, to be honest, but at least she’s proven she handles it.

“Onassis absolutely loves soft ground – she’s won on heavy twice, including over the course and distance at Goodwood.

“I really liked her run last time over a trip that was too short and on ground that, over that trip, would have been quick enough.

“I think we go there with two really good chances.”

The other Group Three on the card is the Markel Molecomb Stakes, which is set to stage a rematch between the first three home in the Dragon Stakes at Sandown at the start of the month.

The impressive winner of that Listed event was Ed Bethell’s Fearby, with the David Loughnane-trained Mojomaker second and Kaboo from Karl Burke’s yard third as the hot favourite.

Bethell said of his charge: “I’m happy with the way he’s trained since Sandown. Obviously running on heavy ground will be a very different question to what he’s been asked before, so we’ll have to see if he goes on it or not.

Fearby impressed at Sandown
Fearby impressed at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s in great form, and I’m happy we decided to run over five furlongs, rather than running over six in the Richmond on soft ground.

“I’m hopeful rather than confident – it’s a step up. It’s the natural progression, and he goes there looking a million dollars, so I’m just hopeful that he’ll run a big race.”

Eve Johnson Houghton’s Windsor Castle Stakes winner Chipotle, who has finished ninth in the Super Sprint at Newbury since his Royal Ascot triumph, adds further strength in depth.

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