Tony Mullins feels Princess Zoe’s Gold Cup claims were given a timely boost by Quickthorn at Sandown Park.
The seven-year-old mare had Quickthorn back in second when winning the Sagaro Stakes in April and Hughie Morrison’s stayer subsequently came out and won the Henry II Stakes impressively from the front on Thursday night.
Princess Zoe was second to the sidelined Subjectivist at Ascot 12 months ago, and her liking for the track and trip will stand her in good stead, according to Mullins.
“She’s in great form and I was very happy to see the Sagaro form stack up,” he said.
“We’re on course for where we want to be and I think she must have a big chance in the Gold Cup.
“I sell a lot of jumpers and I tend to find a mare might be fully matured at six, but I think this mare has improved and that she’s a better mare this year. I find it surprising, but that is what I’m seeing on the gallops – she’s a better mare than she was last year.
“Two years ago she progressed from handicaps to Group Ones, but it’s a completely different style of racing and last year she found that. She had to learn how to acclimatise. That’s what I believe has happened, but we’ll find out in three weeks!
“What is giving me the hope is we know she will stay every yard of two and a half miles.”
Mullins pinpointed the two market leaders Trueshan and Kyprios as the main dangers, while holding full respect for the mighty Stradivarius.
“I believe the two dangers are Kyprios and Trueshan, but Kyprios is going six furlongs further than he ever has in his life,” said Mullins.
“That will be a massive training performance from Aidan O’Brien, but he was very impressive at Leopardstown and Navan so I have to respect him.
“But for me Trueshan is the one to beat. And Stradivarius has retained a lot of his ability as well so you’d have to put him in the mix.
“If I wish for soft ground then Trueshan might have the beating of us so I don’t know what ground I want – at least we know we can handle good to firm. Ascot suits her well because there’s no downhill in the last mile.
“We know she’ll stay, she’s shown a liking for Ascot and it’s very exciting for us. They look a real top-class bunch of stayers, any one of four or five could win.
“I think there’s at least four horses with a very genuine chance of winning it.”