Trainer Tony Mullins was left with a number of excuses for his stable star Prinxess Zoe's lacklustre seasonal debut at Cork On Saturday, with the mare only beating one home in the Listed Noblesse Stakes.
Princess Zoe really made a name for herself last term having made a massive rise through the ranks from a horse off a mark of 64 to now winning Group One events.
Having moved over to Tony Mullins' yard from Germany this year, the handler did not know what to expect with the mare and in June 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 six-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, who has since landed the Dubai Gold Cup.
After a breakthrough season under Mullins last term, the camp were expecting big things this season but off the back of her seasonal debut they have been left pondering her next move, with thoughts of the Arc now being put on hold.
(Credit ATR) Mullins said: “We had a suspicion that she was in season, but we brought her to the vet this morning and she wasn’t. She’s coming into season now, so whether that unsettled her, I don’t know.
“I’d say it was a combination of ground and trip and it being her first run of the season.
“Joey (Sheridan) said she was just going as fast as she was able to most of the time.”
Princess Zoe’s next potential target is the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on April 25th, but she will have to be perfect at home and also get rain if she is to have any chance of being allowed to run.
Mullins added: “We’ll wait for a bit of rain. We’re still looking at the Vintage Crop, but if the rain doesn’t come she won’t run.
“She’s in good form and we’re just hoping that things will improve for the run.”