UK-trained runners have a phenomenal record in the Group 3 Mercury Stakes at Dundalk. They have won the race five times from the past six renewals. The race has been newly-named in honour of Pat Smullen and is the feature on the card on Friday night. Two UK-raiders are Dundalk bound on Friday which is of serious interest given the harsh times we are in.
Some classy horses have won this race in recent years. Take Cover won it twice for David Griffiths in 2015 and 2017 as a ten-year-old. The speedball Caspian Prince won it in 2016 and Tom Dascombe won it last year with 16/1 shot Dr Simpson. It costs a pretty penny to bring these horses across the water and they aren’t travelling over for the fun of it.
The most interesting of the pair is the Phillip Makin trained MUKER, a two-year-old Mehmas colt. First off it is worth noting the fact that this will be Phillip’s first ever runner in Ireland. The horse is sent on a 642-mile round trip from his base in North Yorkshire. He won on debut at Newcastle which is a major plus as he is proven on an all-weather surface.
Next sighted in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot, he ran a screamer. He only found Tactical and Yazaman too good on that occasion and that is pretty rock solid form. Tactical has been contesting Group 1 races of late. Muker gave Credible 12lb and a beating at York when last seen and he is on an upward trajectory so he has every chance.
The other runner that has to be worth a loud mention is Robert Cowell’s ROCKET ACTION. This boy travels further than his fellow UK counterpart, setting off on an 802-mile round trip. Based in Newmarket, this is a long way to bring a horse just for the day out so he deserves respect. Shane Foley is a top jockey and gets the leg up.
This four-year-old has proven winning form on polytrack which is a good place to start. He is three from three at Wolverhampton and hasn’t been out of the first two from six starts on the all-weather. Admittedly, he has been a disappointment in some good company of late but that was on Turf. Back on this artificial surface, he is to be respected.