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Tony Mullins hands Princess Zoe latest jumps assignment at Fairyhouse

Runner-up to Subjectivist at the 2021 Ascot Gold Cup and winner of the Group Three Sagaro Stakes at the Berkshire course last April, the popular eight-year-old got off to a flying start in her hurdling career, dead-heating with Ladybank in Punchestown in January.

For her second attempt in this sphere, Danny Mullins’ mount was thrown into the deep waters of Jack De Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and, after a miss on the last flight, finished a respectable fifth behind You Wear It Well.

Mullins was far from disappointed by the popular gray’s four-and-a-half long loss.

He said: “We were very happy. I suppose her second run over hurdles, when she really got off the bridle and went to penultimate, was a little lacking in experience, but it was a good run.

“She needs more. We got caught between two miles or a full three miles in the Albert Bartlett.

“We decided that the Albert Bartlett we entered them for had been a good race for the past few weeks, but I don’t know. Or?

“The three (miles) would have been extreme for her second run over hurdles so we went for that race (two miles and a furlong) and now I’d like to see what would have happened if we went the other way would be!

“We wanted to ride a bit more manageable and Danny said he was as close as possible without coming off the bridle early.

“We didn’t want to let her off the bridle too early. She settled in well and it was just the lack of experience that got to the end.”

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Owners Paddy Keyhoe and Philomena Crampton are now reviewing options as they are eager to continue their racing careers.

While they haven’t ruled out another run in the Ascot Gold Cup, where she finished sixth behind Kyprios in a six-and-a-quarter length last June, the Connections are excited to see how far hurdles she can push.

“The owner has told me he has no interest in breeding, which suits me just fine,” Mullins said. “He wants to race her as long as she’s alive and well.

“She’s had a few cuts and scrapes but we’re hoping she’ll walk at the Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday – there’s a €100,000 filly novice (Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final).

“If you just look at this race she would be 5lbs worse off with the main protagonists (You Wear It Well and Magical Zoe) who conceded penalties at Cheltenham but not in a Grade One.

“That puts us 5 pounds worse but I think we’ll negate that with the extra half mile as it’s over two and a half miles.”

For winning the Sagaro, Princess Zoe added £45,368 to her prize money, which totals over £420,000, but was subsequently beaten four times by Aidan O’Brien’s Kyprios.

“We were thinking about going back to the flat. I’m sure she will, but she can win more money over jumps and I feel like she has a lot less resistance,” Mullins said.

“It’s hard to believe but the Easter Sunday race is €100,000, the Punchestown Mares Novice is €125,000, the Galway Hurdle is €300,000 and there’s no Kyprios and the like to rival – and he is the best sleeper I’ve ever seen.

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“What he did at Longchamp was breathtaking. He went around like the Benny Hill Show and still won by 23 lengths!

“We haven’t given up on the idea (of a Gold Cup) but we feel like there’s so much money for jumps – which I can’t believe saying this as it’s never happened before – with less resistance .”

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