THERE were Classic trials aplenty at Leopardstown yesterday with Aidan O’Brien’s Battle Of Marengo enhancing his Derby claims with victory in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes.
Always travelling sweetly under the trainer’s son Joseph, the three-year-old went about his business in fine style, asserting in the straight to beat Sugar Boy by a length and three-quarters.
Battle Of Marengo is 10-1 from 12-1 with Stan James for the Investec Derby at Epsom on 1 June. O’Brien senior said: “That was his first time beyond a mile and he wasn’t stopping. He’ll come back here again for the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial [12 May] before hopefully going to Epsom.”
O’Brien had a treble on the day with Declaration Of War impressing in the Listed Heritage Stakes.
“We’re going to go for the Lockinge at Newbury [18 May] and that was the plan coming here,” he explained.
A patient ride from Johnny Murtagh saw Fort Knox (7-1) finish with a flourish to make a winning debut for the Tommy Carmody yard in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial.
Rawaaq (6-1) enjoyed victory in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen. Weld said: “She’s very consistent. We’ll probably bring her back here [for the Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial, 12 May] before heading for the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh.”
Meanwhile, Richard Fahey’s Gabrial looks set for a big season following a stylish win in the Bet365 Doncaster Mile on Town Moor on Saturday.
Without really asking for everything, Kieren Fallon moved his mount to the outside and Gabrial (100-30) quickened up smartly to put the race to bed. Gelded in the winter, he still showed a little quirk by drifting to his right but it certainly did not slow him down.
“His whole demeanour has changed since he’s been gelded but he’s always been very talented,” said Fahey.