HIGHFIELD Princess, the mare who progressed from ordinary handicapper to one of the best sprinters in the world, has sadly died after fracturing a leg in her stable at Highfield in Norton earlier this month.

Trained by John Quinn for his landlord John Fairley, the mare proved one of the best buys of all time. 

She was the ‘free part’ of a buy one get one free deal when John bought her dam Pure Illusion, who was carrying her, from Godolphin at Tattersalls Newmarket Sales in November 2016 for just 18,000gns.

Although she didn’t run as a juvenile, and in her first few races seemed no more than an ordinary performer, she improved with age, and in a memorable spell in 2022, she won three Group 1 races in three different countries in the space of 36 days. 

Overall she won 14 of her 39 races and claimed more than £1,800,000 in prize money.

Quinn, who now shares the training licence with his son Sean, said in a  statement on Sunday:” Although over the past week she fought with the same extraordinary spirit she showed on the racecourse she lost her battle for life on Saturday night.

“We would like to thank Jonathan Anderson and all the team at Rainbow Equine Hospital who did everything possible to help her and keep her comfortable.”

Her owner, former television magnate Fairley, said in a statement on Sunday: “It has been the privilege of our lives to have known Highfield Princess. We are all heartbroken.

“She was the horse you dream of breeding and owning. She took our family on an extraordinary adventure around the world and created so many precious memories. She loved to race and her intelligence, toughness, and will to win were incredible. She was truly a special horse, a member of our family. 

“There were so many people involved in her incredible journey. From the stud where she was born, to the people who helped her take her first steps under saddle and the farm where she spent her holidays. 

“We know the team at John and Sean Quinn Racing, who have looked after the ‘Princess’ with dedication and love, will also be devastated. We would like to thank them all for their tender care over the years. She was so happy in that yard.

“Highfield Princess was the pride of Yorkshire, a superstar on the racecourse and adored by so many, for her irrepressible spirit at home and on the racecourse. We’re thinking of everyone who loved and admired her, in the UK and all around the world. She will be forever held in our hearts.”

In the majority of her races Highfield Princess was ridden by Malton-based Jason Hart, who said: “Sean rang me and told me what had happened. It is so sad, it is not the way you ever want the story to end, especially for her.

"For the boss, Sean, John and his family it’s tragic, but she reached out to a wider audience too; she was more than just for us, and lots of people rolled along with her story and were captured by it.

"She’s irreplaceable, it’s just gut-wrenching.”