Princess Zoe St. Leger’s win would be a ‘dream’
For horse trainer Tony Mullins, glory in the Irish St. Leger at the Curragh this Sunday would be “the dream”.
The fifth and final Classic of the Irish flat racing season is just around the corner and Mullins’ hopes are pinned on his star mare – Princess Zoe.
A Group 1 winner at Longchamp in 2020, Princess Zoe was a major achievement for Mullins, having only made her debut that year.
Winning an Irish classic would be “unbelievable,” as Mullins says, but he is well aware of how the 11-rider race card is stacked.
“Winning an Irish classic would just be better than anything we’ve done in our lives,” he told Extra.ie.
‘I would say it’s the best Lightweight for many years. You have very good horses here.
“You have three Group 1 winners, Rosscarberry is already close to being a Group 1 winner.” It is a first class Lightweight. But I’m not afraid of them.
“Our mare finished second in the Ascot Gold Cup, she won in France. They have us to beat as much as we have them to beat.
Mullins is aware of the talent that will accompany Princess Zoe when the €500,000 race is on, but he is optimistic about her chances.
‘Raise you is a Joseph O’Brien’s enhancer. Hamish and Rosscarbery are very good horses but we won a Group One, a Group Three, we won a Listed. We have done everything.
“They’re trying to get into this league but we’ve done it, and I don’t see any reason why we won’t do it again.”
The variables may fall in favor of Princess Zoe.
Mullins trained her on soft ground – a factor he says was key to her rise – and that was due to rain on Sunday, which Mullins admits he is “delighted with”.
It’s the longest of the five classics at a mile and three-quarters, but Mullins wants the race to be longer given that endurance is Princess Zoe’s forte.
He doesn’t get greedy and admits her meteoric rise caught him off guard considering they originally bought her to do hedges.
“When she arrived, I was a little disappointed with her look. But when we started working with her, she was just amazing.
“We train on open sea sand which I would say has been a big help to her. I would say she trained on faster terrain in Germany.
“We train completely differently than how most conventional flat yards train. We train on soft ground doing slow work as opposed to fast work.
Fans will return to the Curragh for the first time since 2019. Spectators were banned for health and safety reasons during the pandemic in 2020, and attendance figures were capped at 4,000 12 months later.
Princess Zoe’s biggest success came behind closed doors, which Mullins would like to change in front of a rowdy crowd on Sunday.
“We did most of our big stuff behind closed doors,” he said.
“So for Zoe to do it in front of a full crowd would be a dream come true for me!”