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Battle Of Marengo Shortened for Derby Victory After Ballysax Win 16/04/13

A brief scan down the illustrious roll of honour of Leopardstown’s Ballysax Stakes immediately highlights that it is definitely a race that can provide clues for the forthcoming classics, especially when the winner is trained by Aidan O'Brien. Recent winners of the Group Three contest from the Ballydoyle stable include Fame and Glory, Yeats, High Chapparel and Galileo and Sunday’s renewal saw Aidan O’Brien’s Battle Of Marengo land victory to cement his place towards the top of the ante-post betting for the 2013 Derby.

Battle Of Marengo
© Caroline Norris

Battle Of Marengo

Many winners have used this race as a springboard to Group One glory and it could be the turn of another O'Brien Colt to use the Ballysax as a catalyst for Epsom glory.

Battle Of Marengo split opinions in the betting offices after his workmanlike one-and-three-quarter length success on his seasonal debut, but he has since solidified with most of the bookmakers and he is a solid 8/1 shot for the Derby at this stage, which will no doubt change between now and June with many trials still to be run.

O’Brien will undoubtedly have a superb string heading to Epsom, but his emphatic Racing Post Trophy winner Kingsbarns could well miss his date on the Downs, so that is why Battle Of Marengo has shortened as he may fly the flag for the Ballydoyle team along with Mars, who is another who features prominently in a betting that is now headed by Telescope.

Having lost on debut, Battle Of Marengo, a son of former Derby hero and super sire Galileo, has improved immeasurably and his Group Two Beresford Stakes win last season saw him head into the Ballysax a warm order and he was sent off a short-priced 8/13 favourite for the 1m 2f renewal, but he was made to work for his fourth win on the spin.

In fairly testing conditions, Joseph O’Brien took his mount to the front with a couple of furlongs to go and he duly kicked a length-and-a-half clear of his rivals, but Sugar Boy galloped through the yielding going to at least stretch the O’Brien-trained colt. He was up to the task and in the closing stages as his rivals began to tire he seemed to gradually edge clear in the last 150 yards to suggest that a step up to the Derby distance of 1m 4f shouldn’t be a hindrance and could potentially bring out more improvement.

However, with the Craven meeting on the horizon this week and many horses yet to set out on the Derby trail, it’s very tough to assess the Epsom markets at the moment with several punters waiting for the Guineas weekend to see if any three-year-olds sparkle there before a trip to the world famous event on June 1 in what should be a wide open renewal of the Group One blue riband event.

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