Battle Of Marengo: as short as 8-1 for the Derby after trial winPICTURE: Getty Images
Derby hope Marengo battles to Ballysax win
Report: Leopardstown, Sunday
P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes (Group 3) 1m2f, 3yo
BATTLE OF MARENGO enhanced his Investec Derby claims with a clear-cut victory in the Ballysax Stakes and is now as short as 8-1 for Classic glory at Epsom.
Heavy rain made conditions testing but Battle Of Marengo showed plenty of fight, slowly drawing the sting from his four rivals to win with something in hand from Sugar Boy as the 8-13 favourite.
The victory snapped Jim Bolger's recent monopoly of the race, giving Aidan O'Brien his first win in the Group 3 trial since subsequent Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory landed the spoils in 2009.
O'Brien's past winners also include Galileo and High Chaparral, who both went on to score famous victories at Epsom, and that race now looks certain to feature on Battle Of Marengo's agenda
Settled behind runners by Joseph O'Brien, the son of Galileo gradually eased into contention and, although he didn't show an instant turn of foot when O'Brien jnr asked his mount to quicken, he gradually moved through the gears and looks tailor made for the 1m4f Derby distance.
Both Coral and Paddy Power left the winner unchanged at 12-1 for the Derby but others, including William Hill, Boylesports and bet365, cut his price to 8-1.
O'Brien confirmed the Derby as his ultimate target, although a return trip to Leopardstown is on the agenda first.
The trainer said: "We were very happy with him. It became very testing, which wouldn't have been ideal, but we needed to get him started.
"He's passed every test so far and only does what he needs to. We're thinking about coming back here for the Derrinstown [Stud Derby Trial Stakes] before Epsom.
"He's always been classy and would prefer better ground."