Tony Mullins is one man who will not be disappointed with the prospect of heavy ground ahead of Princess Zoe’s step up to Group One company in the Prix du Cadran on Saturday.
The mare has progressed from being beaten off a handicap mark of just 64 on her first run for Mullins after arriving from Germany to winning her her next four races, including two at the Galway Festival in the space of a week.
She handled the step up to Listed company last time out on heavy ground, and Mullins hopes similar conditions at ParisLongchamp may just slow the favourite Call To Wind down a little.
“I certainly never expected to be in a Group One with her, but when we started training her I knew we had a very good handicapper. I certainly didn’t think we’d be here within three months, second-favourite too,” said Mullins.
“Admittedly it was a much lower-grade race, but the evidence from Galway was that she was only starting to open up over two-miles-one and it is a savage hill there.
“From that we are confident she’ll stay (two and half miles), but you can never be sure until you dip your toe in the water.”
Call To Wind won the race two years ago for Freddy Head on good ground – but was beaten into second on heavy 12 months ago.
Mullins went on: “He (Call The Wind) has a high rating (115), but I’ve been through his form meticulously over the last few days and I don’t think he’s run to above 110 when there’s been a good cut in the ground.
“He’s still a formidable horse, even with cut, but I’m hoping, because we’ve no worries on the ground, it might just level it off and give us a serious chance.”
Apprentice jockey Joey Sheridan has ridden Princess Zoe the last twice and connections felt no need to change a winning partnership, especially given the regard in which he holds the youngster.
Muillins said: “We have the utmost confidence in Joey, I think he’s a star in the making but he’s a long way to go. It’s only every 10 or 15 years you see a star coming through and I think I see one here.
“He’s had three Listed winners this year, not using his claim, on three different horses which is exceptional for a 5lb claimer. And he’s not riding for the top stables, it’s rare what he’s done.
“It’s massively exciting for us and I hope it is for everyone around us as well.”
The other Group One on the card, the Prix de Royallieu, features a five-strong British challenge which includes the Ralph Beckett-trained Manuela De Vega and John Gosden’s German Oaks winner Miss Yoda.
David Menuisier saddles Wonderful Tonight, winner of a Deauville Group Three and fifth in the Prix Vermeille. She is stepping up to a mile and six furlongs for the first time.
The trainer said: “It’s not going to be a walk in the park as it’s a Group One and it will be a competitive race. The trip is the real question mark. If I had the guts I would have waited until the mile-and-a-half race at Ascot on Champions Day, but though it’s normally soft it might not be.
“She was strong past the line in the Minerve and the ground that day was really bad, so she should stay the trip, but until you try, you don’t know.
“She has been great and she has not grown into her coat yet, so she still looks amazing as ever. We’ve not done a great deal since the Vermeille, where she ran a stormer, and a career-best as she was put up 1lb – and that was on ground that was not in her favour.
“Hopefully she will run another big race at the weekend.”
Francis-Henri Graffard, meanwhile, brings his stable star The Revenant back after a lay off as he aims to to win the Prix Daniel Wildenstein for a second successive year. He was last seen finishing second in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
“He was very impressive last year. He’s a fantastic horse, but this season has been difficult as we knew he wasn’t going to have his ground,” Graffard told Sky Sports Racing.
“I feel he’s in the same form as last year. He’s worked really well, he will love the ground and I’m happy with his condition.
“Will he need the race? I don’t think so, but we’ll see on Saturday. He’s such a nice horse. We’ll see if he goes back to Ascot. We are running with a very fresh horse this year.”