Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 23 November 2017

Weld eyes Ascot for victorious Princess

Thomas Kelly

Princess Highway marked herself as a possible Classic contender with an impressive victory in last night's Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.

Trained by Dermot Weld and ridden by Pat Smullen, Princess Highway was sent off a 7/2 chance after winning a Leopardstown maiden last time.

She was always travelling well for Smullen and as the well-backed front-runner Aloof began to toil in the straight, Princess Highway made her move. Smullen was in control a furlong out and while Aaraas tried her best to challenge, Princess Highway finished a length to the good with Aidan O'Brien's Was back in third.

Princess Highway is not entered in the Epsom Oaks but she holds a clutch of other top engagements, including the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Oaks.

However, Weld is prepared to sidestep Classic possibilities and is eyeing a trip to Royal Ascot for the Ribblesdale Stakes.

"It's a lovely Group race to win with her. It was important with this filly to win her Group race -- I think the logical progression will be to go for the Ribblesdale," he said.

"This filly is a late-maturing type and I think waiting for Royal Ascot is the prudent way to go. She will definitely be a Group One filly."

Jim Bolger's Dawn Approach is also Royal Ascot-bound after proving far too good for his rivals in the Fishery Lane Race. The 4/6 favourite barely came out of second gear as he cruised home in the hands of Kevin Manning.


Ballydoyle newcomer Parliament Square hung right and interfered with Tennessee Wildcat outside the final furlong while Tennessee Wildcat then hung badly right as the approached the finish.

However, this mattered little to Bolger's charge as the son of New Approach had five and a half lengths to spare over Canary Row and the trainer is now planning a trip to Ascot.

"He is a smart horse. We have a choice of races for him now (at Royal Ascot)," Bolger said. "I was originally thinking of the Chesham but Kevin said he could go anywhere and when he says that, they can go anywhere."

David Wachman saddled a 1-2 in the two-year-old fillies maiden with newcomer Mironica under Billy Lee getting the better of True Verdict.

Lottie Do made the early running but she could offer no more when headed by the winner, which made smooth headway to hit the front a furlong out. Mironica's stablemate True Verdict ran on well to move into second inside the final furlong but never looked like passing the 7/2 joint-favourite, which won by half a length.

There was a 1-2 for owner Aga Khan in the Kill Maiden as Mick Halford's Mizani (5/2 favourite) edged out Handazan by a short-head. The Charles O'Brien-trained Possible landed a gamble as she took the five-furlong handicap in style under 7lb claimer Ray Dawson.

Having been 4/1 in the morning, the daughter of Pivotal opened on course at 7/2 and was backed into 5/2 favourite.

After racing prominent on the rails in the early stages, Possible led outside the furlong pole to win comfortably.

Irish Independent

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