Princess Zoe Given Saudi Target

Princess Zoe

Tony Mullins' stable star Princess Zoe has been given a target of the $2.5million Red Sea Turf Handicap over in Saudi Arabia as the handler is happy for his mare to run on good ground after her strong performance in the Ascot Gold Cup back in June 2021.

Princess Zoe really made a name for herself two seasons ago having made a massive rise through the ranks from a horse off a mark of 64 to winning Group One events.

Having moved over to Tony Mullins' yard from Germany, the handler did not know what to expect with the mare and in the June of that year she was sent to Navan where she finished a good second in a handicap event.

She then headed to the Curragh where she broke her duck in Ireland winning another good handicap and then raced three straight times at Galway and won all he races landing four straight races in a row and becoming a specialist at the track.

Having never raced further 1m4f, stepping up a mile looked strange but it was a genius stroke by the handler as late on in the day the mare managed to stay on best of all to land the event, to the delight of her connections and trainer.

The seven year old was bidding for a sixth successive win on her return to Paris for the Prix Royal-Oak and although not going on to win, she was far from disgraced in finishing fourth behind the Mark Johnston-trained Subjectivist.

Last term she started of the season with both of her runs being below par, with Mullins trialling her over lesser trips and it not working out.

However, she gave her best run of the season when upped back in trip on good to firm ground at Royal Ascot in the Group One Gold Cup when a five length second the smart Subjectivist.

She was seen twice more last season when a narrow second in the Group One Irish St Leger and then fifth of 13 over in France in the Prix du Cadran.

Mullins is now targeting her at the expensive handicap at Riyadh in February and is now starting to ramp up her preparations with a racecourse galop at Leopardstown ahead of her flying out to the middle east.

(Credit ATR) “Everything is going according to plan. I don’t want Saudi to be her first run of the season so I’m inventing my own little mini race. It’ll only be two or three horses, but it will give her that feel that she’s got a run under her belt,” said Mullins.

“We’ll be going genuine racing pace and it depends on the ground how far we’ll go. If there’s a good cut in the ground, we’ll go 12 furlongs and if it’s a bit quicker we might go a mile and six.

“There was nowhere for her to run because we have not got a winter programme suitable for horses of her calibre here in Ireland. We’re treating this as a run to put her spot on for Saudi.

“She did a couple of bits of work last week and she’ll do a couple of bits between now and the Dublin Festival. You can do all the work you like at home, but I just love a strong bit of work in Leopardstown.”

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing