The Jane Mangan column: Princess Zoe reminded racing fans of sporting magic

The Jane Mangan column: Princess Zoe reminded racing fans of sporting magic

Princesss Zoe and Joey Sheridan winning the Qatar Prix du Cadran (Group 1) from Alkuin for owner Paddy Kehoe and trainer Tony Mullins. Picture: Healy Racing.

SPORT has the ability to write stories better than any JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer composition.

Authors imagine the tale, their wonderful minds assemble the wildest of dreams and then the story is born.

Sport has the capacity to realise dreams, break hearts and capture the drama that comes with that whirlwind of emotions and we had a great example of such fortunes last weekend.

Ascot staged the 10th running of British Champions Day, the card that is supposed to cap the year and crown equine champions.

Instead, the horse racing world watched in awe as partners Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand won four of the six races and in turn, Doyle secured her first top-level win.

If concocted by a fairytale writer simply putting pen to paper, one would be forgiven for thinking the tale somewhat unrealistic.

However, if you have the stage, sufficiently talented actors and awesome raw material, all you really need is for the stars to align at the opportune time.

It was a joy to witness and while some of the big equine names failed to fire on Ascot’s rain-sodden turf, some dreams were realised and history made that could never have been forecast before the stalls opened.

Tomorrow, we have the next chapter in another fascinating story that has provided a welcome solace for racing fans this summer.

The journey of Princess Zoe from Munich to Carlow has been one of authentic pleasure, not least because her trainer Tony Mullins is the perfect narrator for such a tale.

Beginning with her unexpected defeat on debut to multiple premier handicap wins and culminating in that wonderful Group 1 victory in the Prix du Cadran, connections of Princess Zoe have opened their doors and allowed a wider audience to observe and appreciate this awesome mare.

This Sunday she will contest the Prix Royal-Oak back at Longchamp but instead of having her usual jockey Joey Sheridan to encourage her along, she will be partnered by Seamie Heffernan.

Jockey Joey Sheridan pictured a few days after his win aboard Princess Zoe in ParisLongchamp. He misses the big race tomorrow due to suspension. Picture: Healy Racing
Jockey Joey Sheridan pictured a few days after his win aboard Princess Zoe in ParisLongchamp. He misses the big race tomorrow due to suspension. Picture: Healy Racing

It’s unfortunate for the 18-year-old apprentice to miss such a ride having proved top class on the mare just weeks earlier but he is still serving the suspension he incurred when winning on Princess Zoe in the Cadran.

Of course, Heffernan is top class and has more experience at the highest level than just about everyone else but this time the Mullins mare has a fresh opponent called Valia, a Group 2 winning three-year-old who she will have to concede 3 kilos to beat.

We watch and wait. Hoping the next chapter can be as fortuitous as the last.

In other news, some might suggest that Ballydoyle have had a quiet season by their own lofty standards.

While that might seem a fair comment, Aidan O’Brien’s team have still notched up 12 Group 1 winners in Europe this season and were unlucky not to add to that tally with Anthony Van Dyck in the Caulfield Cup last Saturday morning.

Seven days on and O’Brien will be up early to watch Magic Wand and Armory compete in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley at 6.15am tomorrow morning.

Magic Wand has many more air miles than myself and proved herself a top-class globetrotter last season when winning the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington in November before being narrowly denied in the Hong Kong Cup a month later.

She did contest this race last year, finishing fourth behind Lys Gracieux but with a promising draw in stall four, she should be bagging more Aussie dollars to pay for her return ticket.

Later tomorrow afternoon, O’Brien will have a busy day then changing the television channel as he saddles strong contenders at Leopardstown and in Group 1 races at Doncaster and Saint Cloud.

The Tipperary team always send a nice juvenile to France to contest the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud while an hour later, the stable saddle a strong team for the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster where Kemeko narrowly denied Innisfree and Mogul last year.

Twelve Group 1 winners before today but how many by Sunday?

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