Highfield Princess collected another Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” in Sunday’s Flying Five (G1) at the Curragh. The action-packed day two of Irish Champions Weekend also witnessed a star performance from Tahiyra, Tarnawa’s juvenile half-sister, in the Moyglare Stud (G1). Joseph O’Brien turned a big-race double, and father Aidan’s Kyprios maintained his winning habit in the Irish St Leger (G1).
Flying Five (G1)
Highfield Princess made it a Group 1 hat trick – in three different countries – in devastating style in the Flying Five. After taking the Aug. 7 Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) going about 6 1/2 furlongs at Deauville, the John Quinn mare shortened up to five furlongs in the Aug. 19 Nunthorpe (G1) at York and won by a bigger 2 1/2-length margin.
The Flying Five, as its name indicates, is contested over the same trip, but the soft conditions were much different. It all came alike to Highfield Princess. Always among the vanguard for jockey Jason Hart, the 5-4 favorite surged clear in the final furlong in a 3 1/4-length demolition job. Highfield Princess clocked 1:02.51 down the straightaway to pick up a superfluous berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), having already booked a ticket via the Nunthorpe. Plans call for her to take up that spot in the starting gate Nov. 5 at Keeneland.
Erosandpsyche, the 22-1 runner-up, wore down the 18-1 Flotus, who showed speed for a long way on the stands’ side. New York City was nearby fourth, followed by Dragon Symbol, Mooneista, Raasel, defending champion Romantic Proposal, Gustavus Weston, Saliteh, A Case of You, Ebro River, Caturra, Brostaigh, The Highway Rat, Ladies Church, Chocquinto, and Geocentric.
Trainers House Enterprises’ homebred Highfield Princess advanced her resume to 30-12-5-5. The Night of Thunder mare made remarkable progress through the handicap ranks before emerging as a sprint star during this breakout five-year-old campaign. The winner of five of her last six, Highfield Princess signaled she was reaching a new level when rolling in the May 18 Duke of York (G2). Her only loss this summer was a close sixth in the Platinum Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot.
Moyglare Stud (G1)
Tahiyra hinted that she could be something special in her debut win at Galway, and the Aga Khan’s homebred wasted no time in proving the point at the top level here.
Riding to trainer Dermot Weld’s instructions, Chris Hayes sat chilly as the 3-1 second choice was breezing a few lengths behind even-money favorite Meditate. The hitherto unbeaten Meditate set the standard on form, and appeared determined to put the race away entering the final quarter-mile. Tahiyra was still on hold under an icy-cool Hayes until the final furlong, when unleashed according to plan. The daughter of Siyouni and the Cape Cross mare Tarana bolted past Meditate and rapidly opened up by 2 1/4 lengths.
Meditate, the winner of Royal Ascot’s Albany (G3) and the Debutante (G2) at this course and seven-furlong distance, was made to look almost ordinary in comparison. Yet the Aidan O’Brien filly was herself well ahead of the rest, with 4 1/2 lengths to spare over Eternal Silence in third. Never Ending Story, a troubled fourth, continues to have upside going further as a daughter of Dubawi and Athena. Next came La Dolce Vita, Papilio, Gan Teorainn, Thornbrook, Amazing Show, Shelton, and Lakota Sioux, who vied with Meditate early. Sydneyarms Chelsea was scratched on account of the going.
Although the Moyglare offers free passage to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), Weld said that Tahiyra would call it a season. The exciting prospect for the 2023 classics has blossomed earlier than half-sister Tarnawa, who excelled as an older distaffer. Perhaps Tahiyra can try to emulate her Breeders’ Cup heroics in a future year.
Vincent O’Brien National (G1)
Al Riffa likewise handled the step up from maiden score to Group 1 laurel in the Vincent O’Brien National (G1). As if to underscore the dominance of Tahiyra, however, the margins were more compressed, and his time for seven furlongs was slightly slower (1:29.31 compared to 1:29.16 in the Moyglare).
Trained by Joseph O’Brien and piloted by 19-year-old Dylan Browne McMonagle, who was winning his first Group 1, Al Riffa was overlooked at 9-1. The Jassim bin Ali Al Attiyah colorbearer had improved, more than the market realized, since his debut loss to the re-opposing Hans Andersen.
As Hans Andersen led from his odds-on Ballydoyle stablemate, Aesop’s Fables, Al Riffa was patiently handled at the back of the compact field. Aesop’s Fables was finding Hans Andersen a tougher nut to crack than in the Futurity (G2) last out, and favorite backers had to be concerned. The Aga Khan’s Shartash caught the eye splitting the Ballydoyle runners, but by that point, Al Riffa was hitting his best stride. The Wootton Bassett colt outstayed his rivals in the final yards, prevailing by 1 1/4 lengths.
Proud and Regal, who had been third in the Futurity, reversed the form by finishing second in this rematch. Shartash was another half-length astern in third, giving a form tie-in to the Aug. 6 Phoenix (G1) where he was beaten farther in third by Little Big Bear. Aesop’s Fables ultimately overhauled Hans Andersen, and Vintage (G2) winner Marbaan failed to land a blow in last.
Al Riffa sports a mark of 3-2-1-0, compiled exclusively at this track and trip. Joseph O’Brien mentioned the Oct. 2 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) on Arc Day as a likely target. Given the colt’s pedigree and unfurnished physique, his trainer expects him to come into his own with maturity. Al Riffa’s dam, the Galileo mare Love on My Mind, is a full sister to multiple Group 3-winning stayer Mizzou, runner-up in Royal Ascot’s 2016 Gold Cup (G1), from the further family of Classic Cliche, victor of the 1995 St Leger (G1) and 1996 Gold Cup.
Earlier, Joseph O’Brien sent out Above the Curve to beat older distaffers in the Blandford (G2). The 17-hand daughter of American Pharoah had been on summer holiday since capturing the May 29 Prix Saint-Alary (G1), but picked up where she left off.
A 5-1 chance with Ryan Moore in the saddle, Above the Curve gradually subdued even-money favorite and defending champion La Petite Coco. Then Insinuendo, who nearly upset Luxembourg in his prep for the Irish Champion (G1), arrived with a fresh challenge. Above the Curve bravely staved her off by a neck, covering 1 1/4 miles on the yielding round course in 2:12.19. Aidan O’Brien’s Galleria Borghese stayed on for a surprising third at 66-1, edging La Petite Coco and Lyrical Poetry.
Above the Curve will reportedly return to Longchamp for the Prix de l’Opera (G1) on Arc Day. The Coolmore homebred, who races for the partnership with Westerberg, has compiled a 5-3-1-1 record. Her dam, Fabulous, is a Galileo half-sister to “Iron Horse” Giant’s Causeway.
Irish St Leger (G1)
Kyprios could have the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) itself on his agenda after seeing off a bold challenge from British shipper Hamish in the Irish St Leger. The 8-11 favorite was turning back in distance to 1 3/4 miles, following his heroics in the Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup (G1), and reiterated his status atop the staying division.
Moore made sure to keep Kyprios in a handy stalking position and capitalize on his stamina. The son of Galileo and Moyglare’s blue hen Polished Gem was committed at the top of the stretch, and only Hamish was able to go with him. In his trademark fashion, Kyprios kept tapping into his deep reserves and held sway by three-quarters of a length in 3:04.67 – 3.25 seconds faster than standard on yielding ground, according to irishracing.com.
A full seven lengths back in third came Kyprios’s full sister, Search for a Song, who won the 2019 and 2020 editions of this race. Rosscarbery just missed a placing in fourth by a neck.
Yet to lose this season, Kyprios has now racked up a five-race sequence. Campaigned by breeder Moyglare Stud, the Coolmore partners, and Westerberg, the four-year-old has an overall scorecard of 9-7-0-0.
If connections decide to stick to the staying ranks, and not take a swing at the Arc, the Oct. 15 British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2) on Champions Day at Ascot would be a logical aim. O’Brien emphasized in his postrace comments that Kyprios can be a force in the Gold Cup for years to come.