Princess Zoe hasn't made it to the Arc but the hugely popular mare will be at Paris/Longchamp on Saturday to defend her crown in the Qatar Prix Du Cadran.
How Tony Mullins’s star progressed from ordinary handicapper to Group One winner was one of racing’s feel-good stories during a Covid-19-stricken 2020.
Such was her progress that Mullins made no secret of his ambitions to aim at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2021.
Four defeats this season underlined that such a target might have been too ambitious but the trainer is confident Princess Zoe is on the verge of regaining winning form despite this year’s Cadran looking to be a stronger renewal.
The veteran Stradivarius was running in the Arc this time last year and his credentials as one of the great modern stayers are impossible to knock.
Trueshan is the rising star of the staying game and will get the soft ground conditions he craves.
Crucially though Princess Zoe is tried and trusted on both ground as well as the two and a half miles of France’s Gold Cup , with Mullins relishing the challenge ahead.
“I’m very confident that she will [defend her crown]. Trueshan is the biggest danger but with that extra half mile we know we can do it and others have to prove it. She’s a very rare mare and I hope to prove it several times in the future,” he added.
Aidan O’Brien saddles a pair of fillies for Longchamp’s other Group One prize on Saturday, the Prix de Royallieu.
However Ryan Moore is on duty at Newmarket where Mother Earth returns to the Rowley Mile where she won the 1,000 Guineas in May lining up in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.
An unlucky third in the Matron last time, Mother Earth renews rivalry with Jessica Harrington’s No Speak Alexander who sprang a 25-1 surprise at Leopardstown.
Three other Irish hopes – Champers Elysees, Epona Plays and Shale – also take their chances.
At home the tempo of Ireland’s jumps season increases with a busy weekend of graded action that includes Put The Kettle On’s return to action at Gowran on Saturday.
The two-mile champion takes her chance in the PWC Champion Chase where she takes on the race-hard pair of Royal Rendezvous and Easy Game from Willie Mullins’s yard.
The Mullins pair were first and second in the Galway Plate and on ratings Royal Rendezvous should again emerge on top, although these conditions look premium for Easy Game.
There’s little argument about figures for Saldier’s return to action in one of Tipperary’s Grade Three prizes on Sunday. Winning the Galway Hurdle off top-weight was a superb performance for a proven Grade One operator who under race conditions gets 7lbs from Jason The Militant.
Jockey Robbie Power has a first ride in over four months when teaming up with Gin On Lime in a later novice chase at Tipperary. Power underwent back surgery in May and eases himself back into action with a single weekend engagement.