Waterlogged Beverley and Gowran abandon cards

Wednesday’s meetings at Beverley and Gowran have both been abandoned because of waterlogging.

Following further rain overnight, on ground already described as heavy, Beverley’s eight-race card was cancelled just before a scheduled 7am inspection.

Confirmation on the course’s Twitter account read: “Racing Cancelled today. Further 3mm rainfall since 4pm yesterday, and with more rain forecast today, no chance of improvement ahead of this afternoon.”

Gowran has been hit by more than 50mm of rain in the past few days, and the decision to call off this evening’s scheduled meeting was taken just after 8am.

Newton Abbot’s jumps fixture was already abandoned – leaving three remaining cards, at Hamilton, and evening meetings at Wolverhampton and Warwick.

Princess Zoe returns at Gowran with Ascot Gold Cup bid looming

Tony Mullins expects to see a “big improvement” from Princess Zoe when she makes her second start of the season in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Vintage Tipple Stakes at Gowran Park on Wednesday.

The daughter of Jukebox Jury enjoyed a meteoric rise after being bought from Germany last year, progressing from a mark of 64 when second on her Irish debut at Navan in June to claim top-level honours in the Prix du Cadran on Arc weekend in Paris.

While she came up short in her bid for a sixth successive win in the Prix Royal-Oak, she was far from disgraced in finishing fourth behind the Mark Johnston-trained Subjectivist – and she was well fancied to make a winning return in last month’s Noblesse Stakes at Cork.

Princess Zoe was ultimately disappointing in beating just one rival home, but Mullins is confident a combination of improved fitness, softer ground and a step up in trip will see his stable star in a much better light ahead of a planned tilt at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

“I’m hoping that the ground stays yielding to soft and the extra two furlongs should make a difference,” said the trainer.

“She’s getting fitter all the time. This will be her last run before the Ascot Gold Cup and I’m hoping to see a big improvement from Cork.

“It was a funny-run race at Cork. I thought they went very slow early on, which certainly wouldn’t play to our stamina strengths.

“I’m hoping it will be different (on Wednesday). She’s got to give away weight, but she’s going to have to do that all the time now apart from in Group Ones – we can’t avoid it.”

Frankie Dettori winning the Irish Oaks aboard Vintage Tipple
Frankie Dettori winning the Irish Oaks aboard Vintage Tipple (Haydn West/PA)

Mullins admits it would be extra special to land a Listed prize named after Vintage Tipple, who his father Paddy trained to win the Irish Oaks in 2003.

He added: “Gowran is our local track and the race is named after a horse my father trained to win a Classic, so it would be a lovely to win it.”

Princess Zoe is set to face eight rivals including Jessica Harrington’s pair of Barrington Court and Flor De La Luna.

Easy pickings as Mullins’ chaser leads all the way

Easy Game made every yard of the running to lift the Grade Two PWC Champion Chase at Gowran.

The two-and-a-half-mile affair lost some of its sparkle when Arkle winner Put The Kettle On was withdrawn on account of the good ground, resulting in Easy Game, trained by Willie Mullins, being send off the 11-10 favourite.

Paul Townend was keen to take control from the off and Easy Game travelled well throughout, before surviving a slightly sticky leap at the penultimate obstacle to come home seven lengths clear of The Storyteller to bag the 20,650 euros first prize.

“Paul was allowed to dictate and he made use of that,” said Mullins.

“The horse jumped fantastic, he made one major error and one minor error. He loved the ground.

“I’m very happy for (owner) Nick Peacock.

“It’s good that Gowran were able to put on two days with good prize-money in this current climate.

“I have to thank today’s sponsors PWC and the EBF for putting on two fillies’ races yesterday with almost 20,000 euros to the winner.

“We could look at the John Durkan and the Clonmel Oil with the winner, while the second-season chase in Down Royal might be the best option.”

Epona Plays on top in Gowran Group Three prize

Epona Plays landed Group Three honours for trainer Willie McCreery and jockey Billy Lee in the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes at Gowran Park.

Since shedding her maiden tag at the County Kilkenny circuit in July, the daughter of Australia had finished fourth in the Hurry Harriet Stakes at Gowran and third in the Snow Fairy Stakes at the Curragh.

Sent off a 9-2 chance for this nine-and-a-half-furlong contest, Epona Plays travelled kindly into the home straight and got the better of a final furlong battle with Etneya by a neck.

Market leader Ennistymon (2-1) – runner-up in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot and the Oaks at Epsom earlier in the season – was disappointing in first-time blinkers.

McCreery said: “I thought she was a decent filly last year and she ran a cracking race in Leopardstown.

“It’s taken her a while to get going, but she loves it here. She’s progressing well and they went a proper gallop.

“Billy said she was just behind the bit lovely all the way and when he asked her, she was always going to respond. He said she did it snugly in the end.

“I’m delighted for the owner/breeders Renzo Forni and his daughter Raffaello. That’s the fourth of that family that have won for me and the three fillies have all got black type.

“She had a little niggle earlier in the year that we have sorted out and she’s coming on the whole time. She’s a lovely, scopey filly and goes on any ground.”