Battle Of Marengo: Ballysax Stakes favourite is 14-1 for the DerbyPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Trials to clear Classic picture for O'Brien
SUNDAY'S enticing Leopardstown card should contain Classic clues aplenty, with Aidan O'Brien fielding the favourite in all three trials as he tries to re-establish the pecking order among his battalion of potential superstars after the transition from two to three.
Such is the strength of O'Brien's string, that despite The United States being as short as 20-1 for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, he is currently sat fourth in the list of O'Brien-trained possibles for the Classic, even after the exit of Kingsbarns.
Refuse To Bend in 2003 was the last horse to go on and land the Guineas after winning Sunday's Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial, yet should he justify 7-4 favouritism, The United States would surely shorten and enter the fray for the season's first domestic Classic.
"He's a nice colt and is in good form," said O'Brien of the unbeaten son of Galileo. "He will benefit from the experience having had only the one run last year. He can be a little lazy, so we're using cheekpieces."
O'Brien has only won the Qipco 1,000 Guineas twice, with Virginia Waters in 2005 and Homecoming Queen last year, but both landed Sunday's Group 3 Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial en-route.
O'Brien is responsible for the favourite this year as well, 100-30 shot Snow Queen, a 25-1 chance for the Guineas. The trainer added: "Snow Queen is a filly we've always liked. She did well over the winter and we've always thought that she would improve when she got everything together. She's in good form."
Perhaps the biggest clue may come via Derby hope Battle Of Marengo, who is 8-13 to make a winning start to 2013 in the Group 3 P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes and 14-1 for the Epsom Classic.
Jim Bolger has won the race for the last three years and runs two in opposition but O'Brien's last two Ballysax victories came courtesy of Fame And Glory and Yeats.
"He wintered well and we're happy with him for his first run of the season," said O'Brien. "He is ready to start and hopefully he will go well and progress as the season goes on."