2021 Arc Aim for Cadran Heroine Princess Zoe

Published 2020/12/24

2021 Arc Aim for Cadran Heroine Princess Zoe

All talk of switching Group 1 winning mare Princess Zoe to hurdles this winter appears to have been shelved, and trainer Tony Mullins is dreaming of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe glory instead in 2021. Hers is a remarkable rise through the ranks, and one of the success stories of Irish horse racing in the past year. Bought to the Emerald Isle from Germany where she was no great shakes in the spring, Princess Zoe was one that got away from the handicapper.

Making her Irish debut off a mark of 64, she went on to capture the Ladies Derby at The Curragh and score twice in Premier Handicaps during the Galway Festival. Princess Zoe defied rise after rise, next landing the Listed Oyster Stakes in September before launching an ambitious raid on the Prix du Cadran.

That is the feature race on day one of Arc weekend over in Paris at Longchamp, the French equivalent of Ascot's Gold Cup. Princess Zoe stayed on from a very unpromising position on bottomless going and, as racing results famously show, reeled in long-time leader Alkuin to complete one of the most remarkable five-timers in Flat thoroughbred history.

She was 15 lengths clear of France's leading stayer Call The Wind, relishing the heavy ground when others did not. The Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp later in the autumn proved one race too many for Princess Zoe, however, and she could only finish fourth after a long campaign.

There were plans of taking her to the Cheltenham Festival for the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle, but Mullins is now looking at keeping her on the level. Many of Europe's leading Flat stayers embraced the big prize money on offer during the Saudi Cup card by running in a valuable handicap.

That may be where we see Princess Zoe next, provided the ground does not come up too sound. Mullins described a trip to the Middle East and run at Riyadh in February as "an outside chance", but also has his eye on famous Flat races much closer to home.

He highlighted the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh, a marked step down in trip, or the Vintage Crop Stakes under a penalty around Navan over a distance Princess Zoe is more likely to appreciate, as her next start in Ireland. The obvious race for any Cadran winner to target over the summer is the Gold Cup during Royal Ascot in Britain.

In recent years, and this would clearly be to the advantage of Princess Zoe, there has been a cut in the ground despite that marquee race and festival taking place in the middle of June. She is 16/1 in the ante post betting for Gold Cup glory, while the Arc - something Mullins says he regrets not running her in this season - has a 50/1 quote about her chances.

That race come next autumn looks sure to be hotter than any Princess Zoe has taken on before over a mile-and-a-half. This wonder-mare now has an opportunity to show her versatility on the track in 2021, just not in the way that was expected.