© Photo Healy Racing
Galway has been a lucky place for me and Paddy Kehoe has been a lucky owner so it was great that it came together there again for the two of us on Monday, when Princess Zoe won the Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap on Monday evening.
It was a great ride by Finny Maguire and a big winner for him, not just because of the prestige of the race for amateur jockeys, but it was his last with a claim. A good way to do it.
I have bought a lot of horses from Germany and that was where I got Princess Zoe, but there was a big slice of luck in the transaction. Bernard Cullinane sourced her for me and he had also found Party Playboy. So when I looked at the flights and that, it wasn’t very easy to get there, so I said I’d take the chance and buy her unseen.
When she arrived, I got a shock as she had crooked legs. I would not have bought her if I had gone to Germany but it worked out well. When she did her first piece of work, I knew I had nothing to be worried about.
We’ve had great success with horses we have bought from Germany. We can buy them off the flat. German horses have a great ability stamina-wise. I find them very tough and when you up them in distance, as opposed to English and French horses where only some of them take to jumping or take to distance races, whereas the real German pedigrees really stay. That’s what I like, horses that you can up in distance all the time.
Princess Zoe got a hike of 13 pounds for winning the Kildare Village Ladies Derby at the Curragh for Jody Townend, nine days earlier, and it was a lot but she needed to get it to get into the race in Galway.
I thought coming down into the dip at Galway that she’d win but when the gaps appeared to open and Finny started to get after her, I thought there was no response for the first half furlong and I got a bit of a fright and thought she was beaten.
Princess Zoe and Finian Maguire winning the Amateur Handicap on Monday
© Photo Healy Racing
Then when they straightened up, she seemed to quicken the second time. But coming off the elbow, I thought we were well beat.
She has been declared to run again tomorrow (Saturday Galway). She seems to take her racing well but I want to do right by her. She’s a good horse and at this stage we’re looking at maybe the English Cesarewitch, and maybe a bit of black type after that because she has a nice pedigree.
Paddy has her already backed for the Mares’ Novice Hurdle in Cheltenham so I suppose she’ll be schooled anyway.
Whenever you have a good summer horse, the first place you aim for is Galway. If you win a feature race in Galway, it’s like a Cheltenham winner to me, or even having one in Royal Ascot. With the type of horses I have, it’s the best I can aspire to, hope to win.
We’ve won a few of the features here over the years and hopefully there’ll be more to come.
I’d say at this stage, Princess Zoe might look better than Party Playboy, who is also owned by Paddy and is sidelined with injury. He was second in the English Cesarewitch and won a novice hurdle very impressively by 11 lengths before getting hurt. She has to prove it now. He’s done it off 82 and 83 but she’s done it off 83. But between the two of them now, if we get him back next year, it’ll be exciting.