Mecca's Angel adds star appeal to Sapphire Stakes
Saturday's Darley Irish Oaks spread looks set to be graced by one of the most exciting mares in training after Michael Dods confirmed that Mecca's Angel is an intended runner in the Sapphire Stakes.
The Curragh's 12-furlong fillies' Classic is expected to see some high-class three-year-olds pitted against each other, with Curvy, Words, Pleascach and Qualify all in contention.
However, the preceding newly promoted five-furlong Group Two could feature one of the most precocious sprinting prospects in the business, with Durham-based Dods declaring that his speedball Dark Angel four-year-old is an intended runner, provided the ground doesn't get quick.
Last night, the official Curragh going was being given as good, with showers forecast for the Kildare area today.
"The plan is, as long as they get rain and there is no firm in the going report, that we would run," Dods told the Irish Independent yesterday.
"We are monitoring the weather very closely. We'd like it on the easy side of good. If it dries up, then we'd have to see."
Mecca's Angel has won five of her last six starts, but fast ground has seen her sidelined since she pulverised Group Three opposition at Longchamp in May.
A 10/1 shot for next month's Nunthorpe at York, she was an intended runner in Royal Ascot's King's Stand Stakes only to be a late scratching.
Dods hopes that patience will be rewarded in the autumn, with the Prix de l'Abbaye back at Longchamp another target.
"It is very frustrating," he conceded, "but Mecca's Angel cannot handle quick ground and we have always looked after her, because she is a good filly.
"It was very disappointing that we had to take her out of the King's Stand, but it was the right decision because the ground was very, very quick at Ascot.
"If we had run her, then we probably would have jarred her up and we probably wouldn't be running on Saturday.
"She is in the Nunthorpe and she will be entered in the Abbaye. She is in good form so we just hope we get the ground.
"You are never confident but you are always hopeful. These races over five furlongs, you only need one thing to go wrong and you are out of the race, but I'm sure she will run a big race."
Regular rider Paul Mulrennan will steer Mecca's Angel, though he would likely switch to Moviesta should Dods' mare not turn up.
Third in last year's Abbaye, Moviesta finished 11th in Ascot's Diamond Jubilee Stakes on his debut for sprint maestro Eddie Lynam.
Tom Hogan has also stated that his triple Group One-winning stable star Gordon Lord Byron will run in Sunday's Group Three Minstrel Stakes, having scored at headquarters for a first time in seven starts on Irish Derby weekend.
Meanwhile, the Derby and Eclipse Stakes hero Golden Horn will strive for a rare treble on Saturday week after his owner Anthony Oppenheimer confirmed him an intended runner in the King George VI & QE II Stakes at Ascot.
John Gosden's brilliant colt will be tasked with joining an elite trio of Tulyar (1952), Mill Reef (1971) and Nashwan (1989) to have won the Derby, the Eclipse and the King George, should he line up in the Group One.
Meanwhile, On A Pedestal got off the mark in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies And Mares Handicap at Killarney.
Aidan O'Brien's filly had flashed her tail quite severely when under pressure on her three starts previously this term, finishing second all three times, and again showed that tendency under Ana O'Brien, who brought her wide to challenge approaching the final furlong.
The 3/1 favourite made no mistake this time despite her eye-catching habit, keeping on nicely in the closing stages to record a one-and-a quarter length victory over Sidra.
Western Boy (7/2) overhauled long-time leader Alguazil to land the Ladbrokes Ireland Maiden, overhauling his pacesetting rival in the final furlong and scoring by three-quarters of a length under Fran Berry.