SOMETIMES you despair at racing folk for contributing to much of their own troubles.

One of the genuine feel-good racing stories over the last few seasons was the rags to riches, unexpected success story of Princess Zoe, trained by Tony Mullins, owned by Paddy Keogh, to become a Group 1 winner from an initially 64-rated handicapper.

It all came to a very acrimonious end this week when Keogh suddenly removed the mare from Tony Mullins’ stable and both parties spoke publicly, with different versions of how things came to a head.

Tony Mullins had generated a huge following for the mare by way of his social media updates and shared the ups and downs of training. To make matters worse, Keogh threw the unwelcome word “welfare” into to the mix in an interview with The Sun mid-week.

Sides were taken, as the various podcasts and social media discussed the issues affecting racing, you would be forgiven for thinking that, going forward to the Derby, would the pink shirt protesters or Paddy Keogh be in most danger if either appeared!

Difference of opinion

The Princess Zoe ‘fall-out’ is not the first nor the last where there was a difference of opinion over the training of a racehorse, where the owner exercised his right to have his horse trained by whoever he wished and targeted at whatever race he selected.

Indeed, Tony Mullins knows more than any how that played out in another era. Even in retirement, Kauto Star’s final years brought about a disagreement between Paul Nicholls and his owner Clive Smith.

Peter Casey and Pat Kelly, with Flemenstar and Presenting Percy, saw their stars moved to another stable after they had enjoyed success with popular horses.

A longer time ago – Wikipedia tells you – owner of the great Champion Hurdle winner Persian War, Henry Alper, employed six trainers through his career and often targeted unsuitable races.

“The three blood tests all confirmed she had serious problems - this was a welfare issue,” was the quote from her owner. It trumps some of Nicky Henderson’s best efforts at citing ‘welfare’ for not running Altior on soft ground.

Rights or wrongs, it’s hard to argue that the trainer and the rider on board during a race would know more about what suits their horse, than someone watching from the sidelines.

Good mix

Whatever the owner wants or believes, you would go a long way to find any informed pundit that would think the Galway Hurdle, a big field of experienced handicappers going a gallop, is a good mix for a mare who has had just two completed outings over hurdles and didn’t jump that well on either occasion. It’s far from a mile and a half listed race, whatever her rating.

And as for winning the Mares’ Novice Hurdle - with all due respect – the bookies had her 9/1 fourth favourite (touched 12/1 on the day) and she finished four and a quarter lengths fifth and reported “not jump fluently”. The winner was having her fifth run over hurdles.

You just hope that those in care of her future on track make the best decisions and we see her offspring on the racecourse in the future.

On Twitter

Zoe Smalley@ZoeSmalley

I have been blessed to travel to France, England & across Ireland on trips that @tonymullins84 team have had Princess Zoe on. The care, attention & love given to this mare has always inspired me. I hope wherever she goes next appreciate the dedication that got this mare so far.

Joe Seward@JoeSeward1

Disappointing news for @tonymullins84 Ultimately owners pay the bills and are entitled to their decisions but the Princess Zoe success story captured the imagination of the racing public particularly during the dark days of covid and lockdowns.

Channel hopping on the agenda

IT’S hard to know how welcome the likely ‘split’ of Irish racing coverage between two racing channels, will be received by racing fans here.

There was a long saga of complaints when Irish racing initially moved to Racing TV which necessitated more split screen coverage on busy days and got minimal paddock coverage.

At The Races/Sky provided excellent coverage in the period it had the Irish rights and Racing TV took a lot of initial flak, but taking June and July this year as an example going forward, not every meeting from the breakaway tracks may receive extensive coverage on Sky.

On Monday June 12th, Roscommon’s evening meeting will be shared with a UK evening meeting at Windsor and the Monday, June 19th evening meeting at Kilbeggan would also share with Windsor. Not too bad. But Saturday June 24th, would see a Limerick evening meeting share with Lingfield after Royal Ascot ends on the channel, while Tuesday, July 4th would have Roscommon’s evening meeting clash with Brighton and Ffos Las that evening. Add in the ad breaks and not a lot of time to cover three meetings.

Monday, July 10th, Roscommon’s evening clashes with Chepstow and Ripon evening meetings.

While Friday, July 14th would see a clash of Kilbeggan with Chester and Chepstow while there are no evening meeting on RTV.

Having to press the change channel button for Kilbeggan, Sligo, Roscommon, Limerick and Thurles and avoid the ad breaks might become a nuisance too.