He is a complete sphinx, this Jim Bolger. Yesterday he came up with yet another surprise for bookmakers, punters and anyone who holds Epsom dear – collectively, not a constituency he would appear to care for – by including Lush Lashes among the acceptors for Sunday's Boylesports Irish 1,000 Guineas. With time, however, Bolger is teaching the rest of us to enter the spirit of things; to comprehend, and even share, the gratification he presumably discovers in our perplexity.
After Lush Lashes flayed the strongest field assembled for any of the trials, at York last week, she was made hot favourite for the Juddmonte Oaks at Epsom next month. Bolger promptly indicated that his filly was more likely to wait for the Irish version, having just absorbed two races in England in 10 days. Yet it now seems as though he is contemplating the possibility of running her in another Classic, 13 days before Epsom. If he were to do so, it would inevitably be interpreted as another calculated slight towards the most precious legacy of British racing.
As Lush Lashes has already seemed to lack the pace to win a Classic over a mile, when sixth in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, it would be remarkable if Bolger elected to drop her back to that trip at the Curragh on Sunday. After all, her participation at Epsom ostensibly rested on how she had coped with a busy spring. The transparent implication of hastening towards this new target – having relished an extra two furlongs at York – would appear to be that Bolger would sooner win this race, than the Oaks. Which is pretty well equivalent to what he has been saying about the Boylesports Irish 2,000 Guineas, on Saturday, and the Vodafone Derby, for which New Approach would assuredly be favourite, too.
Bolger could yet rely on Saoirse Abu, who finished third to Natagora at Newmarket. In fairness, Lush Lashes was less than a length behind that filly and perhaps finished best of all, so could prove superior over the stiff mile at the Curragh. Perhaps Bolger takes the view that she was really woken up that day, by only the third race of her career, and she certainly travelled very easily at York. But many people outside Coolcullen – British and Irish alike – would love to see both Lush Lashes and New Approach test the stamina of their sire, Galileo, at Epsom.
It is not as if Bolger is alone in complicating Sunday's race. Mick Channon, still craving that first Classic, accounts for three of the 20 acceptors, though Nahoodh – full of running when snatched up in fifth at Newmarket – is abundantly better qualified than Nijoom Dubai and Eva's Request. And it goes without saying that Aidan O'Brien has left all bases covered, accepting with six fillies in all. Most of the bigger bookmakers declined to put their heads into the lion's jaw, but the sponsors settled on Nahoodh as their 4-1 favourite, from Lush Lashes on 9-2 and Saoirse Abu on 5-1.
Every prospect pleases, in the meantime, over the next two days at Goodwood. It is a pity that this meeting has lost its way in the maze of Classic trials – Dubai Millennium himself came here in 1999 – but the two Listed races for three-year-olds should still disclose one or two competent for better things.
Channon has saddled the last two winners of the colts' race, but his two representatives this time look pretty exposed. Brian Meehan retains faith in City Leader, a smart juvenile last year who was coughing in the spring, but it could well be Whistledownwind that achieves some overdue momentum for a yard that has not enjoyed the rub of the green this season.
The card pays tribute to the memory of Channon's old friend Alan Ball, himself a keen racing man, while the last race also honours the FA Cup success of Portsmouth. It is hoped that Harry Redknapp will bring many of his players up to Goodwood to show off their trophy. Perhaps it was with Ball in mind that connections of Sixties Icon have meanwhile declared their Classic winner for a race on tomorrow's card.
IRISH 1,000 GUINEAS (Curragh, Sunday) Boylesports: 4-1 Nahoodh, 9-2 Lush Lashes, 5-1 Saoirse Abu, 7-1 Mad About You, 8-1 Carribean Sunset, Kitty Matcham, 10-1 Psalm, 12-1 Halfway To Heaven, 20-1 others.
Nap: River Thames
NB: Speed Ticket