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"The only reason she is going hurdling is Cheltenham" - Flat star Princess Zoe on-course for Festival

25 Jan 2023
Jon Vine 25 Jan 2023
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  • Key quotes from Irish trainer Tony Mullins
  • Princess Zoe won the Prix Du Cadran and finished second in the Royal Ascot Gold Cup
  • Mullins now intended to send his stable star over hurdles in time to run at the Cheltenham Festival
  • The Mares' Novices' Hurdle or Albert Bartlett are the targets for Princess Zoe
Princess Zoe (left) finishing second to Subjectivist in the 2021 Ascot Gold Cup. (Getty)

Top Irish stayer, Princess Zoe has been schooling over hurdles, with a view to running at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.
Princess Zoe remains one of the best and most popular stayers in Irish flat racing. Tony Mullins' stable star reached a peak rating of 114 in 2020, following her victory in the Grade One Prix du Cadran. The following season, Princess Zoe ran on to place second behind Subjectivist in the Royal Ascot Gold Cup.

Having found life much tougher in Grade One company in 2022, Tony Mullins has come up with an alternative plan for his eight-year-old. In an exclusive interview with RTE, Mullins revealed that Princess Zoe has been training over obstacles and a maiden hurdles outing is imminent.

"She will be out sooner rather than later because the only reason she is going hurdling is with a view to Cheltenham." Mullins said.

"She schooled well and we were quite happy with her. We’re considering Punchestown next Monday and we’re also looking at options at Fairyhouse (8 February) and Thurles (9 February) as well. But she schooled adequately and we’re quite happy that she is well able to jump."

"The Johnstown Hurdle (at Naas) is an option on February 26, but it’s quite tight for Cheltenham. It’s different for those in England, but we have to travel as well, so having a run within 21 days of her prime target is not ideal I don’t think."

Given her sex and versatility over various distances on the flat, Princess Zoe of doors open to her. Mullins' star is currently best priced at 25/1 for the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, with races over shorter trips also being taken into consideration.

"There’s nothing dyed in the wool, but having won a Prix du Cadran over two-and-a-half the three miles of the Albert Bartlett wouldn’t be a worry." Mullins continued. 

"Having won a Listed race over a mile and a half, I’m not worried about the Mares’ Novice either."

"Early on the Albert Bartlett looked the weaker of the three novice hurdles and I just wasn’t against it, so we gave her an entry. We’re keeping our options open."

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