2013 Epsom Derby – Aidan O’Brien’s big three contenders
The Epsom Derby is still over seven weeks away but the ante post market is already hotting up, and it’s clear that Aidan O’Brien has an embarrassment of riches…
The Ballydoyle maestro first won the Epsom Classic in Galileo in 2001 and he struck again 12 months later with High Chaparral, but he's had slim pickings since.
That was until last year when Camelot duly did the business as favourite, and it must be short odds that O'Brien achieves back-to-back successes for the second time as he has three highly credible contenders:
Battle Of Marengo – best current price 8/1 Skybet
Won his last three starts as a two-year-old in impressive fashion, including a Group 2 at the Curragh in September when beating a decent type in Trading Leather. This season he's come out and won the Ballysax Stakes, a recognised Derby Trial, and it's worth pointing out that the four Ballydoyle-trained winners of that race this millennium were Fame And Glory, Yeats, High Chaparral and his sire Galileo; all top class horses who won 21 races between them Like all the stable's three-year-olds, he can be expected to improve as the season progresses and he looks an ideal candidate for the Derby with the better ground at Epsom sure to suit.
Mars – best current price 7/1 Boylesports
Reportedly seen as the stable's top juvenile last season, although he was restricted to one run on the all-weather at Dundalk due to his preference for fast ground. He duly won that in impressive fashion and was immediately made favourite for the Derby. The Dundalk race was over 7f but being a son of Galileo he's bred to be suited by middle distances, and he should have no problem getting a mile and a half at Epsom. He is due to reappear in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in early May and is currently trading at around 7/1 behind red-hot favourite Dawn Approach. A big run there will see his Derby odds slashed further and he could well turn up at Epsom as the stable's No.1 hope.
Kingsbarns - best current price 9/1 Stan James
Yet another son of Galileo and he's clearly inherited plenty of his sire's talent judging by his runaway success in last season's Racing Post Trophy. That Doncaster contest has flagged up several Derby winners down the years, including last year's dual Classic hero and stablemate Camelot. Unfortunately Kingsbarns will not bid to emulate Camelot by winning the 2000 Guineas, having met with a setback earlier this spring, and that is a huge blow to his legions of ante post backers. Thankfully, it's not a serious injury and the colt is already back in work and cantering, with a run in one of the Derby trials on the agenda. If O'Brien can get him back to the sort of form he showed last autumn, he must have every chance in the Epsom Classic, although he's only ran on soft ground so far and therefore needs to prove he can handle quicker conditions.
Don't count these out!
Just for good measure, O'Brien looks to have at least another two possible challengers for Epsom glory in the shape of Indian Chief (25/1 William Hill), who won his maiden on soft ground at Leopardstown recently and is expected to do much better on a faster surface, and Foundry (20/1 Sky Bet), who looked a real galloper when trouncing his rivals on his sole start last autumn.