Marengo battles to Ballysax victory

Battle Of Marengo proved a convincing winner of the Group 3 PW McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, the highlight of a treble for Aidan and Joseph O’Brien in testing ground at Leopardstown yesterday.

Marengo battles to Ballysax victory

A Group 2 winner last year and penalised 5lb. for that reason, the Galileo colt had to battle to get the better of Sugar Boy by a length and three-quarters but, ultimately won well, and will return to Leopardstown for the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial next month.

Aidan O’Brien declared, “You couldn’t ask him to do any more in that ground. It was his first time racing beyond a mile and he wasn’t stopping. He’s so relaxed and only does what he has to do.”

He added: “Joseph dropped him in today and he seemed happy coming through with his challenge. The ground is very heavy out there and I was very happy with his performance. He’s a beautiful mover and would prefer real good ground. He’ll come back here for the ‘Derrinstown’ next month.”

Bookmaker reaction to Battle Of Marengo’s win was mixed. Boylesports cut him to 8/1 (from 12). Stan James also trimmed his price for the Investec Derby at Epsom, to 10/1 (from 12) But Paddy Power were apparently unimpressed and left him unchanged at 12/1.

Now beaten only once in six starts, Declaration Of War oozed class as he quickened up well to beat Bold Thady Quill in the listed Heritage Stakes, defying a significant drift in the market (to 6/4) in the face of strong support for Sweet Lightning, which finished a well-beaten fourth.

“He’s a lovely horse and did it nicely,” commented the winning trainer, “He has plenty of pace and wants good, fast ground. He’s so strong and powerful that he handled today’s ground well, which was a surprise.”

“The plan coming here was to go for the ‘Lockinge’ (in Newbury next month). And it’s still the plan.”

Lead horse for St. Nicholas Abbey last year, Justification, the 5/2 favourite, completed the Ballydoyle treble when getting the better of front-running Whatuthink in the concluding Leopardstown Club Members Handicap.

Dermot Weld captured the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial with Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Invincible Spirit filly Rawaaq, ridden by Pat Smullen, which got the better of What Style in side the final furlong to score by a length and a quarter.

Weld commented: “She’s a very sound, tough filly. She was very consistent last season, handles that ground and did it well. What she lacks in size, she makes up with courage.”

“She’ll come back here for the Derrinstown 1,000 Guineas Trial next month with a view to taking her chance in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.”

Trainer Tommy Carmody was not present to see Fort Know (winner of a Newbury

maiden for Richard Hannon last year) land the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial under a well-judged ride by Johnny Murtagh.

The former champion settled the Dubawi colt at the back of the field and delayed his challenge as his rivals battled it out turning for home. Fort Know swooped inside the final furlong to beat Don’t Bother Me by a length and threequarters.

Orla Murtagh commented, “He did it well in the ground and we’ll see how he comes out of the race. He’s in all the Guineas and we’ll talk to Andrew (owner Andrew Tinkler) before making any decisions.”

Jim Bolger registered his second juvenile success of the season when Focus On Venice (a second winner for his sire Intense Focus) outpointed Ballydoyle hope Michaelmas in the opener.

Bolger said of the Kevin Manning-ridden colt: “He’s a good type of horse and is capable of more. He’ll be stepping up to seven furlongs and I can see him going on to better things. It wasn’t easy out there, with the soft ground and strong headwind.”

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