Bolger sets Parish Hall Classic challenge en route to Camelot
Though the race falls only a week before Epsom, the Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday will not only measure the form of Camelot but could also produce an 11th-hour threat to the odds-on favourite for the Investec Derby.
Hermival, the French colt who finished third to Camelot in the Newmarket Guineas, was yesterday made 5-1 co-favourite among 15 acceptors for the Curragh version by Paddy Power, along with Takar and Power – but another leading fancy at 11-2 is Parish Hall, whose trainer intends to send him on to the Derby only a week later.
Highly unorthodox as that preparation might seem, you will do well to find anyone prepared to tell Jim Bolger that he is being too audacious with a colt last seen winning the Dewhurst Stakes.
One way or another, then, it should prove a most instructive race. Along with Camelot himself, Hermival had to overcome inexperience at Newmarket, and was also divided by the width of the track from the other two who made the podium.
Takar, meanwhile, made a striking reappearance in a Listed race over the Curragh course earlier in the month, though his trainer, John Oxx, may also give another chance at a mile to Born To Sea, who failed to settle first time out at Newmarket.
Power was still more disappointing there, having looked outstanding beforehand, and is one of seven candidates to win this for a fourth time in five years for Aidan O'Brien. But O'Brien reserves the right to drop either Power or Nephrite back to six furlongs on the same card, having left both in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes.
Perhaps the most intriguing Ballydoyle acceptor is Daddy Long Legs, who won the UAE Derby at Meydan in March but then finished tailed off in the Kentucky Derby, his second disappointment in two visits to Churchill Downs. "When he ran in the Breeders' Cup, we just thought he wasn't sharp enough away," O'Brien said. "But we've decided he just doesn't handle the surface there. He doesn't get a hold of it." As for Power, he describes the Newmarket failure as "inconclusive" with the colt's jockey, Ryan Moore, reporting him simply unsuited by the soft.
Master Oats, who completed the Gold Cup-Champion Hurdle double for Kim Bailey after Alderbrook won at Cheltenham in 1995, died yesterday at 26. Bailey saw the old horse only last week and was pleased to reflect that he had enjoyed the "best possible" retirement.
Frankel has been officially raised 2lb to 138 for his latest rout, at Newbury last Saturday. The unbeaten four-year-old is now formally ratified as the best since Dancing Brave, rated 141 in 1986.
Chris McGrath's Nap: Raffinn (5.15 Nottingham)
Looks to be feasibly treated after promising handicap debut spin last month.
Next best: Corsetry (3.45 Nottingham)
Starts on a dangerous rating as a half-sister to Light Shift.
One to watch: Swinging Hawk (Ian Williams) is well treated on the Flat judged on his return at York last week.
Where the money's going: Thought Worthy
is 25-1 from 33s with Hill's for the Investec Derby.
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