Jumping is the name of the game at next week’s Dublin Racing Festival, but those still about after the finale are in for a Flat treat as Tony Mullins puts Princess Zoe through her paces before she heads to Saudi Arabia in February.
Mullins intends to replicate a “mini race” in a gallop before his star stayer heads to the Middle East to contest the €600,000 Red Sea Turf Handicap in Riyadh, where regular rider Joey Sheridan is once again expected to be in the plate.
The loveable grey mare finished last season without a victory, but a second-place finish in the Ascot Gold Cup sent her star soaring even higher, and the Kilkenny trainer is hopeful that there’s more to come from the seven-year-old.
“Everything is going according to plan. I don’t want Saudi to be her first run of the season, so I’m inventing my own little mini race. It’ll only be two or three horses, but it will give her that feel that she’s got a run under her belt,” he said.
“We’ll be going genuine racing pace and it depends on the ground how far we’ll go. If there’s a good cut in the ground, we’ll go 12 furlongs, and if it’s a bit quicker, we might go a mile and six.
“There was nowhere for her to run because we have not got a winter programme suitable for horses of her calibre here in Ireland. We’re treating this as a run to put her spot on for Saudi. You can do all the work you like at home, but I just love a strong bit of work in Leopardstown.”
Meanwhile, Mullins’ brother Willie may have unearthed another star at Down Royal yesterday when Deploy The Getaway (8/15 favourite) got off the mark over hurdles at the third time of asking when coasting home in the opener by 18 lengths.
Bought by Cheveley Park Stud for €240,000 two years ago, the seven-year-old has taken a while to come to hand, but he excelled under Paul Townend with the Irish champion jockey pleased by his exploits.
“He couldn’t have done that any better. It probably wasn’t the strongest race, but he had to still come and do it. He is starting to show us what he can do at home, and we are learning about him,” Townend said.