I took Princess Zoe out of Tony Mullins' yard because I feared for her health, claims owner Paddy Kehoe | The Sun

THE owner at the centre of a blazing row that has rocked racing claims he is sending his top horse to another trainer for her own safety.

Irish trainer Tony Mullins and owner Paddy Kehoe have had an almighty bust-up over the handling of stunning grey Princess Zoe.

Mullins, brother to Irish genius Willie, said he was 'heartbroken' to see his stable star with nearly £500,000 in earnings leave his yard earlier this week.

He said he thought the eight-year-old mare was going to stud – only to find out she has gone to another trainer.

Sun Racing can confirm Princess Zoe will be trained by Paul Nolan – but will only race again if she returns to full fitness after being pulled up on her last outing at Fairyhouse in April.

Kehoe claimed three blood tests taken while Princess Zoe was being trained by Mullins showed there was 'no way' she could race in her current state.

Mullins, a hugely popular and respected trainer who turned Princess Zoe from a handicapper into a genuine Group 1 superstar, has always insisted he 'did the best thing by the mare'.

But Kehoe claimed: "I asked a horse physio to have a look at Princess Zoe. I was worried about her health.

"The alarm bells started ringing over a blood test. I said 'there's something going on here'.

"We did three blood tests in all. After the first one, two further blood tests confirmed she had two problems. She had ulcers and was suffering from dehydration.

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"There was no way that mare was fit to continue racing in her current condition.

"I was advised to take her out of training.

"Tony refused to let the mare leave his stable.

"Put simply, the mare is ill. The three blood tests all confirmed she had serious problems – this was a welfare issue.

"If she is healthy she will go to Paul Nolan."

Mullins has previously responded to these claims, telling the Racing Post: "Zoe's bloods hadn't fully recovered from Cheltenham.

"There was no suitable race for her at Punchestown so we all agreed to run at Fairyhouse."

Kehoe says the whole row – which has played out spectacularly on Twitter – has seen him vilified.

But he insists all it boils down to his concern for the horse's wellbeing and nothing else.

Kehoe, who made headlines around the world as one of the masterminds behind the infamous 1992 Irish Lotto coup, said: "The horse gets sore and she has to be walked round before her races.

"Well, after she ran in the Prix Du Cadran in October 2021 we brought her to Ascot for the Champions Day Long Distance Cup.

"Tony thought she had recovered but we had to pull her out."

Kehoe is adamant Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey Danny Mullins – Tony's son – will never ride Princess Zoe again.

Sean O'Keeffe is one of Nolan's stable jockeys and it he could get the leg up in future.

Kehoe said: "As for Danny Mullins, he's never done anything for me.

"He's a great jockey for other people, but not for me.

"At Cheltenham we were in an egg and spoon race (Mares' Novice Hurdle). We should have been at the bar celebrating a win.

"Instead we were eighth at the last hurdle and finished fifth. She should have won that by a mile.

"At Punchestown when she dead-heated with Ladybank, Danny f***ed up. The mare should have won.

"But what I'm saying is all this is not the reason I have taken the horse out of Tony's yard.

"I was worried about her condition and her health.

"I have been told it is too late to send her onto a Flat stallion.

"If and when she recovers she will go to Paul.

"I have been vilified on social media but this is not to do with me – this is only about the horse's health.

"The intention with her if she returns is to do Flat and jumps.

"There is the 2m5f Flat race at Royal Ascot, the Queen Alexandra. That would be one target and the Galway Hurdle.

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"That was another thing Tony said, that she wouldn't handle the Galway track.

"How can he say that after she won three times doing f***ing handstands there – is he mad?"

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