'We'll give them a run for their money' – Princess Zoe on course for Cheltenham after dead-heating on hurdles debut | The Sun
POPULAR Flat horse Princess Zoe has booked her ticket to the Cheltenham Festival.
But she had to settle for a share of the spoils on her hurdles debut when dead-heating with 40-1 shot Ladybank at Punchestown.
Tony Mullins' gutsy mare, who was a Grade 1 winner on the Flat and famously finished second in the 2021 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, jumped well on the whole under jockey Danny Mullins.
But a slight mistake at the last cost her outright victory – though her trainer was over the moon with the performance.
Mullins said: "The win or lose part of the result was everyone else's worry, my worry was her welfare and how she would take to it and thought she took to it like a duck to water.
"She was very brave out in front and I was a little worried that she was a bit gassy early on, which didn't help her to get home.
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"We don't know how good Ladybank is but we went right away from the others which was nice.
"Danny said the reason that she missed the last was that she was starting to empty, I thought it was because she was gassy early on. She needed the run for sure.
"To jump out and make all, I think was a very good performance and I'm expecting quite a large improvement to go to Cheltenham."
Mullins, brother of top trainer Willie, said he has run out of time to get another run into the eight-year-old before the Festival in March.
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He added: "We haven't got time to have another run. Ideally we would've liked to have done this in the middle of December and then get her going at Christmas and then on to Cheltenham.
"But the way the timing has worked, we will probably just give her a good school in February at the Curragh.
"Me and Danny are both of the opinion that we will stick to the mares' novice, unless there's a huge change that's what we will be doing.
"Stick to her own company and her own sex. It's the best mares' novice that I've seen for a long time, there's four or five very good ones, with loads of experience.
"But if we get there, we'll give them all a run for their money."
Princess Zoe was cut into 16-1 from 33s with Paddy Power for the Ryanair Mares' Novice Hurdle, which is held on day three of the Festival.
She was also trimmed into 25s (from 40-1) for the Albert Bartlett over three-miles on Gold Cup day.
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