When you have a specialist subject, passing is a disappointing option. So Jim Bolger will be making every effort to supply the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes, the Newmarket juvenile Group One showpiece that he has won for the past two years. He has entered five colts to follow in the hoofprints of Teofilo and last year's victor, New Approach, come October.
"I hope when the time comes we might be represented in the race," said the master of Glebe House yesterday. "We would like to keep the sequence going."
Two of the contenders, Gan Amhras and Intense Focus, have already appeared; the other three, O'Graolaigh, Smart Miler and Vocalised, have yet to race.
Though Gan Amrhas, whose name translates as "of course" or "doubtless", from the Irish Gaelic, has not been as highly tried as were Teofilo and New Approach at the same stage of their careers, he has none the less impressed with his potential. He stepped up on his debut third at Leopardstown last month to beat Ballydoyle hotshot Masterofthehorse comfortably at Naas 13 days ago.
Plans to run him at Listed level at Tipperary today have been abandoned because of the prevailing easy ground, but the merit of his maiden victory was underlined on Tuesday night when the runner-up came out at Gowran Park to win by nearly five lengths, eased down.
Gan Amhras, who cost Bolger some £98,000 at auction as a yearling, is, like so many of his trainer's stars, by Galileo. "He's a miler," he said, "but I'm sure he would have no problem in dropping down to the seven furlongs at Newmarket. He's got the class to do that. But he won't run at Tipperary because he doesn't fancy soft ground."
Intense Focus is the more exposed, having run five times to date, all over six furlongs. The son of Giant's Causeway looked good when runner-up in the Coventry Stakes and third, beaten only half a length, to another Ballydoyle inmate, Mastercraftsman, in the Railway Stakes, but less so when he beat only two home in the Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh last month.
"We were disappointed with his latest run," admitted Bolger, "I think seven furlongs would suit him better. I thought he ran very well at Royal Ascot on a trip short of his best and on ground that was on the fast side for him."
"I would have no problem in stepping him up in distance or indeed dropping Gan Amhras in trip, if either of those two are chosen for the Dewhurst."
The Bolger dark ones, O'Graolaigh (by the sire Mr Greely), Smart Miler (Smart Strike) and Vocalised (Vindication) will start off low-key. "We'll run them in their maidens," added Bolger, "then decide where they go."
The last trainer to win three Dewhursts in a row, incidentally, was Frank Butters, who took four from 1933 to 1936 with Mrs Rustom, Hairan, Bala Hissar and Sultan Mohammed.
Aidan O'Brien's 28 entries include Masterofthehorse, Rip Van Winkle, Black Bear Island and Hail Caesar, all at the top of the betting for next year's Derby. The Ballydoyle maestro, offered at 2-5 by William Hill to train this year's top-rated two-year-old, has won just one Dewhurst Stakes, with Rock Of Gibraltar seven years ago. Since then he has sent out Tomahawk, Oratorio, Horatio Nelson and Holy Roman Emperor to finish second.
According to the global rankings published yesterday by Timeform, he has the world's best turf horse within his gates. Duke Of Marmalade recorded a career-best mark of 133 when he beat Papal Bull in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month, his fourth Group One success of the season.
But four-year-old Curlin, the US dirt champion whose turf career and sportingly conceived tilt at the Arc have now been shelved, is judged the best of all on 134. Curlin's year-younger rival Big Brown and Papal Bull share 132, with Henrythenavigator and New Approach on 131.
Duke Of Marmalade's achievement in outbattling Papal Bull, though, may be considered only faintly praised, for the runner-up's rating is qualified with the dread squiggle. But the talented colt is not the best to have his commitment and behaviour questioned. That dubious honour goes jointly to a pair on 133, the exasperatingly self-willed Zucchero, who was left at the start of the 1951 Derby when giving Lester Piggott his first ride in the race, and the obstreperous French-trained Auriban in 1952.