Bolger regains rightful place as ruler of Turf
Never mind waiting for the dish to get cold before serving up your revenge. Jim Bolger had barely hosed down Dawn Approach after his ignominious Derby defeat before turning him out to win at Royal Ascot, and had to wait only a few days more to turn over the Epsom winner in the Classic he cherishes most. In his own estimation, moreover, the success of Trading Leather at the Curragh on Saturday evening represents the crowning moment of what must be acknowledged one of the most significant careers in modern Turf history.
Aside from his own achievements as a trainer and breeder, after all, Bolger was once mentor to Aidan O'Brien – who had brought Ruler Of The World to the Irish Derby as odds-on favourite to extend his monopoly of the race to a staggering eighth year. A young rider named Tony McCoy was another to pass through Bolger's Co Carlow academy, while Bolger has also made a critical intervention between the superpowers of the bloodstock market, opening a priceless conduit into the blood of Coolmore's outstanding stallion, Galileo, for Sheikh Mohammed.
Bolger's regard for his home Classics became plain when he appeared to take Galileo's son, New Approach, to his Epsom success in 2008 more or less inadvertently. As a home-bred colt, ridden by his son-in-law in the silks of his wife, Trading Leather consummates everything Bolger has set out to do – not least because he now intends to retain him as a stallion. As he remarked, in characteristically salty vein: "To be fair, when I have put him on the market before, there hasn't exactly been a rush of interest."
St Jovite, Bolger's previous winner of this race in 1992, proceeded to beat older horses in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and it is edifying that Bolger is giving consideration to taking the same route with Trading Leather – the race having lost much of its lustre since, through its neglect by the top three-year-olds.
For now the pecking order among his contemporaries, over middle distances, has been thrown wide open by Trading Leather. Ruler Of The World could manage no better than fifth on Saturday, while the Epsom runner-up, Libertarian, beat only one home on his final start for Elaine and Karl Burke. There is already a rush to disparage the quality of this crop but it is worth remembering that both Ruler Of The World and Libertarian only made their debuts in April. Having come so far so quickly, either might have been entitled to a break after Epsom – and both duly deserve another chance, especially back on an easier surface.
Trading Leather certainly saw out the trip well in a race run at a strong pace. Bolger believes that the winner's sire, Teofilo, would have stayed middle distances, had he been able to run at three, and the young stallion is now matching the breakthrough already made by New Approach, as another of Galileo's first champions. Yesterday, in fact, Teofilo produced a second Group One winner in 24 hours when Havana Gold got up to win the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly under Mickael Barzalona. Richard Hannon's colt had finished fourth behind Magician in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, where the pair were divided by the subsequent Jersey Stakes winner Gale Force Ten and Trading Leather. That form is looking pretty special now.
Another British raider exported the big prize at the Curragh yesterday when Ambivalent, trained by Roger Varian, made all in the Oxigen Pretty Polly Stakes. She duly maintained a vintage run of form for Johnny Murtagh, who ended up as top jockey at Royal Ascot. Among jockeys and trainers alike, the Irish remain privileged to have standards set by authentic masters of the age.
CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP: Bantam (4.45 Wolverhampton)
Shaped well in maidens, not least in the strong one she contested on her debut, and will be suited by this step up in trip to 12 furlongs for her first handicap.
NEXT BEST: City Ground (2.30 Pontefract)
Remains very well treated after returning to form to land support in a similar race last time, not least given the subsequent success of the runner-up.
ONE TO WATCH: Santefisio (Keith Dalgleish) caught the eye twice in three days at Royal Ascot, first meeting traffic and then caught out by the draw.
WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING: Mars is 6-1 from 8-1 with the sponsors for the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.
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