Cheltenham Festival: Princess Zoe has ‘serious’ chance in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Trainer Tony Mullins gives us the inside line on his star mare!

Princess Zoe


Trainer Tony Mullins is convinced his stable star Princess Zoe has a “serious” chance of landing the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.

A Group 1 winner on the Flat, Princess Zoe switched to the Jumps game at the start of the year and kicked off her career over flights by dead-heating in a mares maiden hurdle at Punchestown.

Speaking on Paddy Power’s Ultimate Cheltenham Preview Night, top man Tony revealed it’s all systems go for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle after schooling over white obstacles at Willie Mullins’ yard.

The latest Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle odds are on the Paddy Power website and Paddy Power app, otherwise you can watch Paddy Power’s Ultimate Cheltenham Preview Night in full below.

Tony Mullins:

“She’s had a sort of a rushed preparation for that race in Punchestown because we had it half in our head that we might run in the Johnstown Hurdle, then we decided that she had done enough in Punchestown, but it was a rushed preparation.

“I was very thrilled – when they were coming off the bend, Danny went for home and she shot five clear and the reason she made a mistake at the last was she conked out. He said 50 yards before the last she conked out and her natural ability after making a bad mistake [meant] she held on to dead heat.

“I think it was a brilliant run, as I said to people Istabraq got beat on his first run over hurdles, Dawn Run got beat. For her to go out and win with a rushed preparation and, in fairness, everything has gone perfect since.

“I can’t believe [her price] and I’ve been telling [owner] Paddy Kehoe if he doesn’t keep backing her now, I’m going to call him a coward if she doesn’t keep shortening.

“I’ll be very nervous [on the day], I go over to Cheltenham with horses hoping that if they run the race of their life that they’re placed. I believe this one has a serious, genuine chance of winning.

“I’ve had her over at Willie’s jumping those white [hurdles]! But she jumped royally. Danny did say the first morning we went over when they were white that she did have a look.

“A lot of people don’t believe that there is a difference – if you go back to Hey Johnny in November and Charlie Mullins rode him in the handicap hurdle, white flag raised, down to the first, horse went up like that and Charlie went out over his head. I agree with them – I love these new white, I think it’s a great concept, but it’s just something you’ve got to be schooled to do.

“I’m not saying they’re wrong, I think they’re brilliant. Horses are definitely, in my opinion, jumping better since these white [hurdles] horses can identify better. I love them but you just have to school over them.

“Princess Zoe has and has done everything perfectly.”

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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