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Ballysax Winner, Marengo, Fails to Impress Everyone

4/15/13 - The victory of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Battle of Marengo in the Group 3 P W McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown has not convinced everyone that the son of Galileo is a potential Investec Derby winner, or indeed even the stable first-string for the blue riband event.

Extending his winning streak to four, having ended last term with a hattrick of successes culminating in a victory on heavy ground at the Curragh in September in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes, Battle of Marengo did everything asked of him by jockey Joseph O’Brien who suggested that the colt had won despite conditions, not because of them.

After leading over a furlong-and-a-half from home in the 10-furlong affair, the Ballydoyle colt stayed on determinedly in gluey conditions to beat Sugar Boy by a length-and-three-quarters to justify a starting price of 8/13 with the minimum of fuss.

While Betfair reacted immediately by cutting Battle of Marengo to as short as 8/1 in the ante-post list for the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 1, others were less impressed and left his odds unchanged at 12/1.

The latter suggests that he had been no more than “workmanlike” and that there is a belief that, at present, he is only third in the Derby pecking order at home.

Kingsbarns (13/2), winner of last season’s Racing Post Trophy, is rumoured to be the No.1 at Ballydoyle, but has suffered a training setback and will miss the 2000 Guineas. He is also far from certain to be ready in time to run in one of the Derby trials.

The other runner strongly fancied in the Timeform UK SmartPlays is Mars – now in to just 7/1 for the Derby – having gained many admirers when winning his sole start in a Dundalk maiden last July in very impressive fashion.

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