Aidan O'Brien marshals Marengo for potential Derby squad


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The Independent Online

Ryan Mania, having been detained a second night in hospital, was discharged in time to head home to Galashiels for a celebration of his breakthrough success in the Grand National. Scans did reveal that the young Scotsman suffered a minor fracture of his C7 vertebra when taking a fall from his very next mount after Auroras Encore, at Hexham on Sunday. But Mania described himself as no more than "a bit tired and sore", having otherwise suffered only soft tissue and ligament damage, and stressed his determination to be riding again sooner rather than later.

His lucky escape, having been airlifted to hospital in Newcastle, serves as a gratifying coda to another National meeting that reliably tested the sport's nerves. Though a trip to Punchestown sounds increasingly likely for Sprinter Sacre, in broad terms the emphasis can now shift serenely to the Flat. And while the early-season programme continues to meander through the next few days, a captivating week of Classic trials is set to begin at Leopardstown on Sunday.

While most of the imminent rehearsals are oriented towards the Guineas, the road to Epsom starts unmistakably in the P W McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes – a race often favoured by Aidan O'Brien as a starting point for colts en route to the Investec Derby, often via the Derrinstown Trial. Galileo was the most luminous case in point, while High Chaparral, Fame And Glory and Yeats also began their campaigns here.

While O'Brien seems to have given up hope of getting Kingsbarns to the 2,000 Guineas, following a setback, the top Ballydoyle juvenile of 2012 remains firmly in the Epsom picture and will presumably resurface next month in either the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown or the Dante Stakes at York. Even so, his trainer will be looking for a support team to take shape from the six entries he has made for the Ballysax. These include Battle Of Marengo, who rounded off his excellent progress at two with an impressive success in the Beresford Stakes. The last three runnings, however, have been won by Jim Bolger – whose three entries this time include Trading Leather, perhaps not at his best when disappointing behind Kingsbarns in the Racing Post Trophy.

Guineas trials for both colts and fillies are also staged on Sunday's card, and O'Brien is contemplating giving a spin to George Vancouver. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner has moved up the Ballydoyle pecking order for Newmarket following the defection of Kingsbarns. Good ground is considered imperative for this colt, but conditions at Leopardstown are better than in many previous years – officially described as good, good to yielding in places.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Sandy Lane (3.20 Catterick) Thriving when last seen and new trainer's record with recruits suggests he is hardly likely to stop progressing now.

Next best

Beyeh (5.20 Catterick) Remains lightly raced on the Flat for this stable, hacking up at Yarmouth last autumn.

Where the money's going

Dawn Approach is 6-4 from 7-4 with Betfred for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.