Tony Mullins feels a combination of factors contributed to Princess Zoe's underwhelming return to action at Cork on Saturday.
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 October's Prix Royal-Oak, she was far from disgraced in finishing fourth behind the Mark Johnston-trained Subjectivist, allowing connections to spend the winter dreaming.
Hopes were high ahead of her comeback run in the Listed Noblesse Stakes - but Princess Zoe ultimately beat only one rival.
Mullins said: "We had a suspicion that she was in season, but we brought her to the vet this morning and she wasn't. She's coming into season now, so whether that unsettled her, I don't know.
"I'd say it was a combination of ground and trip and it being her first run of the season.
"Joey (Sheridan) said she was just going as fast as she was able to most of the time."
Princess Zoe's next potential target is the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on 25 April.
"We'll wait for a bit of rain. We're still looking at the Vintage Crop, but if the rain doesn't come she won't run," Mullins added.
"She's in good form and we're just hoping that things will improve for the run."