The Derby trials have come thick and fast of late, with a bewildering array of Classic pointers from Leopardstown, Saint Cloud, Sandown, Epsom, Chester and York bombarding punters’ brains. Despite a wealth of conflicting information, the form of Battle Of Marengo’s Ballysax Stakes victory keeps getting franked.
The Dante Stakes at York is always a key Derby trial and even in the absence of Sir Michael Stoute’s much-touted ante-post Epsom hope Telescope it looked a strong event, with five of the eight contestants already rated in excess of 100 by the handicapper.
The 33/1 victory of Elaine and Karl Burke’s Libertarian came as the kind of massive shock that has scholars questioning the worth of the form, but the son of sire-of-the-moment New Approach had blown his chance by cornering very wide in the Sandown Classic Trial won by Sugar Boy last time out and was entitled to improve.
Just as Libertarian has likely ended the Derby dreams of Indian Chief, Sugar Boy had lowered the colours of another potential Aidan O’Brien classic contender in Eye Of The Storm at Sandown.
The subsequent victories for Libertarian and his Sandown conqueror Sugar Boy offer solid evidence that Battle Of Marengo deserves his lofty 4/1 second-favourite billing in the Derby betting, with the Ballydoyle leading light having beaten the latter on his seasonal reappearance at Leopardstown.
It was a fine performance given the soft ground and he stayed on to beat a classy opponent in comfortable fashion under Joseph O’Brien.
Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather came with a storming late burst to run the Dante winner within a length and a quarter on the Knavesmire, another performance that should boost the confidence in Battle Of Marengo, who beat the Bolger horse by an eased-down length and a three quarters in their juvenile campaign.
A lazy gallop contributed to an uninspiring showing from the Epsom Classic second-favourite in winning the Derrinstown Stud Derby trial, with Joseph O’Brien finding himself out in front far further from home than is ideal and as a result he was trimmed just a single point by most bookmakers on the back of that success
Given the far more up-beat tempo he’s sure to encounter on Derby day the 4/1 available looks certain to show Battle of Marengo in a better light and could be a gift to punters.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.