Following the scratching of Aidan O’Brien’s Kingsbarns from the Qipco 2000 Guineas, having suffered a training setback, could the Ballydoyle handler’s once-raced Mars now be the yard’s best hope of landing the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 1?
O’Brien appears to have plenty of potentially high-class three-year-old’s in his care once again this term, not only Kingsbarns – last season’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy winner – and Mars, but also the likes of Battle of Marengo, The United States, and doubtless others waiting in the wings.
After the Ballydoyle maestro revealed that Kingsbarns will miss the 2000 Guineas – having torn off a shoe in training few weeks ago and subsequently developed a foot infection that limited his training at a crucial stage in his prep for the first colts’ classic of the season – he drifted out to 6/1 for the Epsom Derby, only a point bigger than the unexposed Mars.
A son of Galileo, (as the name suggests), Mars made quite an impression on his only outing as a juvenile at Dundalk on the Polytrack last July where he made just about all of the running top beat his stable companion The Ferryman, (a winner at Tipperary the following week), by an effortless four-and-three-quarter lengths.
That performance prompted the Betfair Epsom Derby pundits to quote him as short as 12/1 for the race on the basis of just the one run.
There had been rumours in the in-play hints prior to his Dundalk debut that Mars had been showing tremendous ability at home, and he certainly did nothing to suggest that he is likely to be anything other than a very useful performer this season.
Whether or not he has what it takes to win a Derby remains to be seen, but he may well first try his luck in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 4, a race for which he is currently on offer at 14/1.