O'Brien set to allow Mars shoot for the stars in Paris
Aidan O'Brien looks poised to launch a three-pronged assault on Saturday's Grand Prix de Paris after Mars was surprisingly declared alongside Battle Of Marengo and Festive Cheer.
Having run well in defeat in the Epsom Derby, the St James's Palace Stakes and last Saturday's Eclipse in the space of just over a month, it was suggested that Mars would get a mid-season break. However, he is one of 11 left in the 12-furlong Group One contest, which O'Brien won for a second time with Imperial Monarch in 2012.
Battle Of Marengo, two places ahead of Mars when fourth at Epsom, has been earmarked for the Longchamp race since finishing second in the King Edward VIII Stakes at Ascot, while Festive Cheer represents the Irish Derby form, having run third to Trading Leather at the Curragh.
The home defence for a contest that is headed by Ocovango, the horse that split Battle Of Marengo and Mars in the Derby. Ocovango's trainer Andre Fabre has won the race 11 times, and he will also saddle Flintshire and Au Revoir.
Battle Of Marengo and Mars are likewise among five Ballydoyle contenders that have been left in the King George VI Stakes at Ascot on July 27, though Trading Leather could be the leading three-year-old to contest that.
Jim Bolger, who completed a famous Irish Derby-King George with the mighty St Jovite in 1992, has nominated the prestigious 12-furlong event as Trading Leather's next target. Of the 15 now left in the Group One, O'Brien's dual Coronation Cup hero St Nicholas Abbey is the 6/4 ante-post favourite, followed by Cirrus Des Aigles at 7/2 and Trading Leather at 6/1.
Bolger's Dawn Approach is an intended starter in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood four days later, when a mouth-watering rematch is on the cards with his narrow Ascot victim Toronado. Mars, Declaration Of War and Most Improved are among six that O'Brien has left in the one-mile feature, though Ascot disappointment Magician is not among the 26 entries.
Intriguingly, Queen Anne victor Declaration Of War – second to Al Kazeem at Sandown on Saturday – has been put in the Sprint Cup at Haydock over six furlongs on September 7, along with established Irish sprinters Gordon Lord Byron, Sole Power and Slade Power. Eddie Lynam, who trains the last-named duo, has also entered Viztoria and Balmont Mast.
Meanwhile, David Wachman elected not to declare Duntle for tomorrow's Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, with O'Brien's Bye Bye Birdie and Ger Lyons' Tennessee Wildcat the only two raiders confirmed for their respective races.
Of Duntle, Alan Cooper, racing manager to the owners, said: "She's not been declared as it was felt that she needed a longer gap between her races. She'll go to Deauville for the Prix Rothschild on July 28, a Group One over a mile."
Just four runners will go to post in the Falmouth, headed by Richard Hannon's 1,000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern, which followed up at Royal Ascot in the Coronation Stakes.