If you were to ask Aidan O’Brien to list his favourite racecourses then Leopardstown would certainly figure prominently.
The Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial would probably be up there with his favoured races too, and the Ballydoyle trainer went into Sunday’s latest running of the 42-year-old race holding a massive 19 entries.
That number was inevitably whittled down given that the field now contains just 12, but O’Brien holds half of those and it is Battle Of Marengo – the son of 2001 Derby winner Galileo and currently the 4/1 second favourite for this year’s race at Epsom – who he holds highest hopes for.
“The plan is to run ‘the big horse’ [Battle Of Marengo] in the Derrinstown,” O’Brien told the Racing Post on Monday, when his thoughts would certainly have turned to the possibility of a 10th Derrinstown win in the last 16 races.
Whilst O’Brien’s eyes might not stray from his goal of victory both here and at Epsom on June 1st, it would have been impossible for him to ignore the form shown by Jim Bolger’s 2,000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach at the weekend, when he came home five lengths ahead of the field.
That showing has installed the colt as the 7/4 Derby favourite, but in Battle Of Marengo O’Brien has a horse well capable of challenging him.
The three-year-old was an impressive winner of the Ballysax Stakes when he returned to action at Leopardstown last month, and with course form like that O’Brien has every right to feel confident.
The trainer will be hoping that Battle Of Marengo can follow in the footsteps of previous Ballydoyle charge High Chaparral, who remains the last horse to win both the Derrinstown and the Derby, having done so in 2002.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing