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Better ground should see Battle Of Marengo improve at Leopardstown

Aidan O’Brien-trained Derby contenders have been coming out of the woodwork left, right and centre in recent weeks, with Ruler Of The World and Magician’s graded Chester wins coming hot on the heels of Mars’ promising 2000 Guineas run. Leopardstown’s Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial sees another of the long-time Epsom talking horses Battle of Marengo – 11/2 in Coral’s Derby betting – take another step towards the classic and a high quality trial it looks too.

Battle of Marengo’s victory in the Grade 3 Ballysax Stakes over this course and distance last month was a deeply encouraging performance, with the mount of Joseph O’Brien comfortably seeing off Sugar Boy by a length and a quarter on heavy ground. The form of that win was franked in fine fashion when the second came out and took the Sandown Classic Trial on his next outing.

That the Galileo colt is a serious horse cannot be in doubt given he broke the track record over 1m in a listed two-year-old contest at Leopardstown last year despite his rider’s saddle slipping during the contest. That run came on good ground and seems to guarantee he will be a better horse than the one seen in the Ballysax on the yielding ground he can expect to encounter this time.

First Cornerstone is his sole rival currently entered in the Epsom Classic – for which he is rated a 40/1 shot with Coral – but with trainer Andrew Oliver telling Sky Sports “I expect him to come on for the run” it’s the Jim Bolger trained Loch Garman who may give Battle Of Marengo most to think about.

Twice raced as a juvenile, the son of Teofilo won a 1m Grade 1 in France on his last start and is clearly highly thought of if entries in the Irish Guineas and Irish Derby are anything to go by. That French form looks strong too, with Triple Threat – the third that day – winning the Group 3 race taken by Pour Moi on the way to Epsom glory in 2011 recently.

However with this the seasonal reappearance for Jim Bolger’s three-year-old it’ll be a big ask for him to see off a race-fit Battle of Marengo, meaning it’s O’Brien’s colt who should take the winner’s berth in a forecast involving the pair.

The race certainly represents an above average renewal of this Derby trial, with three of the five protagonists already rated above 110 and a taking performance from Battle of Marengo will the 11/2 on offer with Coral about him taking the Derby disappear fairly sharply.