Moll was a decisive winner of Cork’s Irish Stallion Farms EBF Noblesse Stakes on Saturday – in which Princess Zoe proved a major disappointment.
The listed contest was billed as Princess Zoe’s opportunity, on her first start of the new season, to consolidate her remarkable improvement last year and demonstrate she can be as effective back at this shorter trip of a mile-and-a-half.
Tony Mullins’ admirable mare was sent off 3/1 to do so but could never get competitive after being held up on ground quicker than she has often encountered – and 5/2 favourite Mighty Blue could not threaten seriously either.
Jessica Harrington’s Flor De La Luna hit the front on entering the final furlong – but with the race seemingly at her mercy, she veered to her right, losing all momentum.
In any case Moll, close up behind subsequent Irish Oaks winner Even So when she last ran, had made stylish progress to get within touching distance and was perfectly placed to take advantage of Flor De La Luna’s waywardness.
Billy Lee rode the 6/1 shot out for a one-and-a-quarter-length win, and she looks to have a bright future for Paddy Twomey.
The Tipperary trainer said: “She was fourth to Even So at Naas last year, and was only beaten three lengths, but got injured.
“Moll has top-class ability, and I supplemented her for the Irish Oaks last year – and I wasn’t messing when I did it.
“It’s day by day with Moll, and if there is an ease in the ground she’ll run in the Munster Oaks back here in June.
“She has the ability to go all the way. But she has been physically immature – and everything she is doing, she is doing on natural ability. You have to be patient.”
Laugh A Minute was a surprise winner of the Listed Sean Barrett Bloodstock Stakes.
A smart performer a couple of years ago for Roger Varian, Laugh A Minute was on a losing streak of nine since winning on his second outing for Ado McGuinness.
Well beaten when favourite at Dundalk last time out, Gavin Ryan’s mount looked to have plenty to do with two furlongs to run.
Eventual runner-up Fiscal Rules and Gustavus Weston were in the process of battling it out, with the favourite Lustown Baba and Make A Challenge all in there pitching.
However, Laugh A Minute found a rare turn of foot and soon quickened clear to win by a decisive two lengths at 16/1.
Fiscal Rules did well to cling on for second – with Make A Challenge, who was not disgraced in Group 1 company on a couple of occasions last season, back in third.
“We were running this lad in premier handicaps – and his work at home was very, very good – and we said we’d bite the bullet this year and go back to listed races,” said McGuinness.
“He is a good horse and has been galloping with Harry’s Bar (stablemate). He had group form before we got him, and had solid form. He is a little hyper but was on song today, and I’m blessed that I have a good bunch of horses.
“Gavin (Ryan) said it rode a really good race, and he picked up and put the race to bed in a matter of strides.
“I’d say his handicapping days are over now, and he’ll stay in stakes races. We have plenty of options for him.”