As the hours tick down to this year’s Royal Ascot, the withdrawal of Desert Crown through injury has put a dampener on proceedings.
So without the potential star of the show, who else could fill the hooves of Sir Michael Stoute’s colt?
Highfield Princess would appear a prime candidate in The King’s Stand.
Princess to Queen
As we have said on many, many occasions, Highfield Princess may just be our favourite horse around right now.
What a mare she is.
The French phenom has transitioned effortlessly from spritely youngster to filly and now a 6yo pro.
Last year was her own.
Winning five of seven contests, it was victory at Newcastle last April however, that kick-started a run of dominance.
Taking the Duke of York at the Dante Meeting, Highfield Princess lined up in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes with strong hopes.
But as Naval Crown stormed home at a massive 33/1, the Princess was not on song.
Then going on to seal three wins on the trot, a trip to Keeneland for the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint ended her year in disappointment via an astonishing 43/1 ride by Caravel.
Highfield Princess could console herself after a stunning season; but having lost out in the big two, there was a tinge of what might have been.
Royal Ascot double
Which makes a third trip to Royal Ascot this year all the more important.
On her return run at York last month, many would’ve expected a win but to come runner-up whilst shedding the winter rust was no less impressive.
After all, as statistics prove, Highfield Princess only gets better as the year goes on.
In her 12 career wins, only three have arrived in the first half of the calendar year.
When it comes to Ascot, Highfield Princess has only won once in four outings, however, the win was the Buckingham Palace two years ago.
Highfield Princess will likely go off the marginal favourite, but the mare will be kept busy by a number of the fillies.
Not least the shortest-price Australian raider, Coolangatta.
On her first race away from home, the 3yo of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace comes here off a win at Flemington.
In good to firm conditions, Coolangatta has five career wins and her last two wins have come over the same 5f trip.
Closer to home, Karl Burke will also be optimistic of his chances with last year’s Queen Mary victor, Dramatised.
Runner-up in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf last November, the Irish youngster was an impressive winner of the Temple at Haydock last time out.
Returning to another Australian hope, Cannonball will look to follow in the footsteps of the electric Nature Strip.
Romping to victory in the King’s Stand 12 months ago, trainer Chris Waller was the toast of sprint racing on the other side of the world.
This year, Peter and Paul Snowdon make the trip with genuine hopes on fast ground – provided significant rains do not come.
After the King’s Stand 2023 had a dominant winner, this year’s edition should be a good deal closer.
Highfield Princess had an off-day at Royal Ascot 12 months ago, but having planned for this very race, this classy lady could get her big win.