Horse Racing: Highfield Princess won the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on Sunday, giving jockey Jason Hart the biggest triumph of his career to date.
Highfield Princess, the star of jockey John Quinn’s stable, was given a 10/1 shot at the start, needing to break the trend after favourite Naval Crown placed sixth behind Charlie Appleby’s Royal Ascot winner in the Platinum Jubilee in June.
James Doyle’s Naval Crown attempted to gain ground on the far side as Hart maintained his mount conspicuous throughout and took the lead with two furlongs remaining in the elegant 14-runner race.
Jason Hart will have seen Appleby’s contender when they stretched the field after a sluggish start, with Richard Fahey’s Perfect Power among those feeling the strain.
However, Hart picked up the pace and Doyle slowed down, leaving fellow British raiders Minzaal (8/1), Garrus (25/1), and Rohaan (12/1) to make a futile attempt at a comeback while Australia’s Artorius could only manage a sixth place behind Naval Crown.
Hart told Sky Sports Racing: “She’s really special. These are the races that everyone really wants to win and be riding in so it’s nice to come here and get a Group One which is what we all dream of doing.
“The boss and Sean [Quinn’s son] had this race mapped out for her after Ascot and when they target one they rarely disappoint.
“We didn’t go very quick which I think helped because we were in the right place to attack when we wanted to. She was a game-winner in the end and was well on top at the finish.”
Owner-breeder and emotional winner John Fairley said of Jason, “He’s a wonderful jockey and definitely suited her. She pulls out more when other horses approach her. I couldn’t have asked for a better day; it was just exceptional.
“I see her every day and pat her nose because she lives just 10 yards down the road. I’ll certainly give her a few pats when she gets back.
“We may take her to Ireland for the Flying Five and of course, you dream of going to the Breeders’ Cup. It may be that I now have to get on an airplane rather than the ferry!”
Kieran Shoemark’s Prix Maurice de Gheest attempt did not go as planned because he was only able to place Hans-Albert Blume’s 25/1 longshot Celestin in the 10th position. Nevertheless, the British rider made his trip to France worthwhile by winning the €100,000 Grand Handicap Deauville on Clive Cox’s 8/1 longshot Harry Three.
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