Mars set to shine in Group 3 Meld Stakes
Mars has run creditably in four Group One races and looks set to gain the second victory of his career in the Weld Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday evening. The son of Galileo won his debut at Dundalk as a two-year-old and was immediately pitched in at the highest level this season.
He could never get competitive in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket but ran well enough in sixth to earn a trip to the Epsom Derby on his second start. He was held up off a slow pace and finished as well as anything in sixth, under four lengths behind Rule of the World.
His next stop was the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot where he was one of main sufferers in a rough race won by Dawn Approach. He showed great courage to get up and grab third place so it was slightly surprising that a hood was applied for the Coral Eclipse.
Once again, Mars suffered interference and finished fourth behind the impressive Al Kazeem. There was no disgrace in that effort and he should appreciate the drop in class here.
There are still some decent types lined up against the O’Brien colt including Irish Oaks fourth Scintillula, Group 1 winner La Collina and top class handicapper Sweet Lightning.
Scintillula seemed to relish the mile and a half in the Oaks and may struggle to match Mars for pace over this shorter trip. It was still a fine effort by Jim Bolger’s well bred filly and she is likely to be up with the pace from the outset.
La Collina’s Group One success came in the Phoenix Stakes back in 2011 but she has put up some consistent efforts since. Her last outing was slightly disappointing behind Ambivalent in the Pretty Polly Stakes.
English and Irish Lincoln winner Sweet Lightning finished within a length of Duntle in the Amethyst Stakes before making no show in the Royal Hunt Cup. The form of the Hunt Cup is very difficult to read with the draw having had such a big impact this year and she is capable of a lot better.
The biggest threat to Mars could come from Along Came Casey who just failed to catch Fiesolana over seven furlongs at Fairyhouse last time out. This strip is much more suitable for the daughter of Oratorio.
Elleval performed well in Dubai this spring and ran well enough behind Count Of Limonade in June. Dane Street is consistent but looks to be outclassed in this grade.