Princess Zoe has made Ballybrit Racecourse her palace and Tony Mullins is eyeing up a French raid after his marvel mare reigned supreme once again at the Galway Summer Festival, writes Will Jennings.
The talented five-year-old has enjoyed a week to remember as she followed up her first day win in the Connacht Hotel Handicap with another crowning glory in Saturday’s showpiece, winning the Shopping Centre Premier Handicap with Joey Sheridan on board.
Finny Maguire took the ride as Mullins’ star got her week underway in style but it was the youthful Sheridan in the saddle as Princess Zoe won a narrow contest against Emperor of the Sun.
That made it three wins on the spin for Mullins’ mount and the trainer says he could be aiming her at the prestigious Group One Prix du Cadran over 2m5f.
“We’re thinking of the Cesarewitch at Newmarket, but we’re also now going to have to consider the Prix du Cadran,” he said.
“That’s over two miles five and it’s a Group One and she has a nice pedigree. It’s just a word of warning in case anyone is going backing her ante-post (for the Cesarewitch). The Prix du Cadran has come on the agenda.
“She won’t run in the meantime and of course Paddy (Kehoe, owner) has her backed for the (mares’) novice hurdle in Cheltenham.”
A thrilling battle unfolded on a wet day in Galway as Princess Zoe and Emperor of the Sun duelled it out in a two-horse race as the field turned for home.
But Sheridan, who rode Denis Hogan’s superstar sprinter Sceptical in her Royal Ascot prep run before Frankie Dettori took the ride, kicked in the turbo boosters to zoom clear by half a length.
Princess Zoe reigned supreme in the main event but it proved a scintillating Saturday all round as there were also winners for Irish training immortals Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins.
The master of Ballydoyle scooped the first race of the day with Ontario - with Wayne Lordan on board - while king of Closutton Mullins finished the day in style as leading Irish Flat jockey Shane Foley guided Dark Voyager to victory.
There were also wins for trainers Adrian McGuinness, James Barrett and Patrick Hayes with Sirjack Thomas, Next in Line and Lightning Jock respectively while 22-year-old handling hotshot Donnacha O’Brien scored with The Rain King.
O’Brien, who has watched Fancy Blue soar to a pair of Group One glories in the French Oaks and Qatar Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this month, celebrated as Gavin Ryan partnered The Rain King to a comfortable win over Roundel in the Gloriously Simple
With MansionBet Maiden.
And that marked Ryan’s - who narrowly missed out in the showpiece on Emperor of the Sun - second win of the day after also taking the ride on Sirjack Thomas and steering the mount to victory for McGuinness.
O’Brien revelled in The Rain King’s improved performance while McGuinness hailed his ‘funny’ horse on a memorable sixth day at Galway.
“He had a good run at Naas, but he was a bit disappointing at the Curragh,” O’Brien said.
“Today was a wonderful opportunity and he did it well - he bends his knee so the ground was no harm and it spreads them out in a maiden like that anyway.
“We’ll see what the handicapper does. If he’s too high he could go for a stakes race.”
McGuinness said of Sirjack Thomas: “He’s a funny horse. We thought he wanted good ground, but it’s not looking like it.
“Gavin said he got hampered – he got a bang. He won nicely though.
“He’s a nice horse. We’ll go hurdling with him at some stage later on in the year and he might go back and have another whack somewhere else on the Flat and see what happens.”