Princess Zoe completes meteoric rise with last-gasp Cadran verdict
Princess Zoe completed her fairytale story with a dramatic last-gasp victory in the Group One Qatar Prix du Cadran at ParisLongchamp.
Ridden by apprentice Joey Sheridan, who was unable to claim his allowance, Princess Zoe reeled in long-time leader Alkuin just yards from the finish to snatch the two-and-a-half mile stamina test.
Rated just 64 when runner-up on her first outing for Irish trainer Tony Mullins after been previously trained in Germany, the five-year-old has gone from strength to strength in a short space of time.
Having won three handicaps, Princess Zoe lifted a Listed contest at Galway on her latest outing, tempting connections to aim high. They were proved right as she reduced a big deficit to score by half a length at the highest level.
Princess Zoe was at least six lengths down with less than two furlongs to run, but she would not be denied as she reeled in Alkuin. Favourite Call The Wind was a further 15 lengths back in third.
Mullins said: “I certainly didn’t think three months ago this as going to happen, but Joey Sheridan came down to work her last week and when she pulled up, I said we were going to win in France.
“She just kept improving so fast, even before the Listed race she won – I had been eyeing it because she was improving at such a rate I wasn’t able to keep up to her.
“As the season was closing, and she was improving so fast, I was just very confident.”
The original plan to send Princess Zoe for next year’s Cheltenham Festival has been scrapped, at least for the time being.
“The owner (Paddy Kehoe) and his sister (Philomena) are huge Cheltenham fans and we had her pencilled in. Then she started improving so fast I said to Paddy ‘we’ll go to France and if she wins I’ll be recommending she doesn’t go jumping’, not for the moment anyway,” said Mullins.
The County Kilkenny handler will even consider next year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe if the ground was suitable.
“Our plan now is to go anywhere there is not firm ground. I don’t mind good ground. That may even be the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe next year,” he said.
“This is just an unbelievable mare. I just can’t explain how I’m feeling now.”
Mullins recalled a big day as a jump jockey when he rode Dawn Run to victory in the French Champion Hurdle at nearby Auteuil for his late father, Paddy.
“At Auteuil, on the other side of the Bois de Boulogne, I won the French Champion Hurdle on Dawn Run in 1984, so it’s 36 years and that was a great day too,” he said.
“When you’re training seven days a week with the horse, you’re so much more involved and worried all the time.
“A jockey is very important, but he sits up at the last minute. As a jockey I used to love it – as a trainer, to win a Group One is just off the scale.”
Sheridan, 18, cannot believe his luck in only his second season as a jockey.
“I got a lot of confidence off Tony. I rode her work the last time. He couldn’t have had her any more right for today,” said the 5lb claimer.
“On her form, she had every right to be here.
“It means everything – it’s a dream come true. From riding ponies at home, seven years later to be winning a Group One is the stuff of dreams. It’s a fairytale. It’s only my second year riding.”
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