Princess Highway running away with the Ribblesdale for Pat SmullenPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Princess Highway cruises to Ribblesdale win
Report: Royal Ascot, Thursday
Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f, 3yo fillies
PRINCESS HIGHWAY maintained a fine family tradition in the Ribblesdale, emulating her mother Irresistible Jewel with a six-length victory for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen.
The three-year-old's mother won the race in 2002 for the same jockey and trainer combination, and she confirmed herself as a rapidly progressing filly with a performance full of staying prowess.
While Princess Highway had not run in the Investec Oaks, she already possessed strong form claims having beaten the winner Was at Naas on her last start in a Group 3, and it was proved in the result as The Fugue and Shirocco Star were again forced to battle out the minor honours.
Twirl was the quickest away, with Vow and Dinvar Diva also prominent during the early stages, while Princess Highway was in the middle of the pack along with The Fugue and the Queen's runner Momentary.
After the gallop appeared to steady through Swinley Bottom, Darryll Holland took the race by the scruff of the neck turning for home and slipped a few lengths clear of the field on Shirocco Star.
However, the filly had no answer to Princess Highway, who came and grabbed the lead before storming away. The Fugue came through to challenge Shirocco Star, and turned around the Epsom form, taking second for William Buick, with Holland's mount in third.
Outsider Salford Art ran a stormer for fourth, while the likes of Vow, Kailani and Momentary never figured and were well beaten down the straight.
Weld, who was saddling his 15th Royal Ascot winner, said: "It's nice to come back and win the same race. She's been a backward filly who has progressed through the spring. We thought it was an excellent renewal, she had to improve and she's gone and done it."
Weld added that they were concerned about the ground being too slow, and she could take on Was again as the Irish Oaks was mooted as a target.
John Gosden, trainer of The Fugue, said: "It was a really good run. It was disappointing it rained because this is a superior filly on good to firm. She has a lot of speed on good to firm as she proved at York. She will be freshened up for the Yorkshire Oaks."
Hughie Morrison, trainer of Shirocco Star, as he also said: "We tried to play to her staying strength which probably cost her second as a result. She's run a huge race."