Princess Zoe continued her remarkable rise up the ranks with a decisive fourth successive victory, on her first attempt at Listed company in the Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes at Galway.
Tony Mullins’ hugely-improved mare was returning, after a five-week break, to the scene of her two Festival handicap victories in the space of six days.
The five-year-old took the rise in class entirely in her stride, overcoming a wide berth throughout to hit the front two furlongs out before stretching clear and maintaining her advantage to the line.
Princess Zoe again appeared to relish the testing conditions – and even through the poor visibility on a wet evening, the grey could be seen travelling ominously well in mid-division under Joey Sheridan behind pace-setting Ennistymon.
Once she was asked to quicken, the 2-1 favourite did so emphatically to win by a length and three-quarters from the staying-on Barrington Court – with this year’s Epsom Oaks runner-up Ennistymon having to settle for third, another half-length further back.
Princess Zoe had already risen 37lb in the ratings – from her opening mark of 64 when she joined Mullins from Stefan Richter in Germany at the start of this summer – and after this latest victory, her Gowran trainer confirmed ever higher-profile plans beckon.
“It’s a great relief to have that over, particularly to see her do it on heavy ground,” said Mullins.
“We would have had a sporadic good horse (in the past), but injury intervened with so many of them.
“This one has delivered every time – and it shows, though few and far between, that a small stable can compete at this level.”
As for the future, in the short term, the grand stages of Newmarket and ParisLongchamp are in the equation – with Cheltenham, and a switch to jumping to prepare for next year’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, then on her owners’ minds.
Mullins added: “She’s owned by a great old friend in Paddy (Kehoe), with his sister Philomena (Crampton), and they are purely racing people – so other considerations don’t come into it.
“Cheltenham is still to the forefront of their minds, but in the shorter term we’ll have to have discussions as regards the Cesarewitch and the (Prix du) Cadran.
“Joey couldn’t use his allowance here, but his claim would negate a penalty in the Cesarewitch.”