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Moll on top as Princess Zoe flounders at Cork

Moll was a decisive winner of Cork’s Irish Stallion Farms EBF Noblesse Stakes – 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.”