Aidan O’Brien landed his fourth Derby trial within a week when his long odds-on Battle of Marengo duly obliged in the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown, although not everyone was impressed with what they saw.
Expected to dispose of his three rivals with the minimum of fuss, the son of Galileo took over the running after four furlongs and duly dominated the race from thereon, although he had to be strongly ridden three out to keep up the momentum in the rain-softened ground and then had to respond to young Joseph O’Brien’s urgings inside the final furlong to hold Jim Bolger’s running on Loch Garman by a length-and-three-quarters.
Aidan O’Brien suggested that Battle of Marengo had been in need of the outing to bring him to concert pitch for the Derby itself just 20 days later and that being in front for the final six furlongs had also been far from ideal.
The Royal Ascot betting tips left the perceived leading Ballydoyle Derby candidate unchanged at 5/1 second-favourite in a market dominated by the tremendously impressive Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach.
O’Brien’s colt was landing his fifth race in succession having achieved a hattrick at the end of last season, including a maiden victory at Gowran Park, success in listed company at Leopardstown in September (where he beat the useful Trading Leather with something to spare), and then overcame heavy ground in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes, beating Origlio Bay by three-and-a-half lengths.
Kingsbarns had been the stable Derby first-string, but after his much publicised difficulties earlier this season, it is Battle of Marengo who has emerged as the assumed principal contender for Ballydoyle, even allowing for this week’s other classic trial successes of Ruler of the World, Magician, and Nevis.
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