As though goaded by the precocity of his apprentice, the sorcerer yesterday came up with a couple of tricks that reminded everyone just where it was that Aidan O'Brien first handled a wand. Having seen his protégé win Group One races on each of the first three days of the meeting, for much of the fourth Jim Bolger requisitioned the winner's enclosure for the sole use of his own family.
Cuis Ghaire and Lush Lashes were ridden by his son-in-law, Kevin Manning, in the colours of his wife, Jackie. An unequivocal success in the Coronation Stakes volunteered Lush Lashes as perhaps the best filly of her generation, in Britain and Ireland at least, and much the same seems likely to prove true of Cuis Ghaire, who confirmed herself an exceptional juvenile in the Albany Stakes.
Both are daughters of Galileo, who has already furnished Bolger with the last two champion juveniles, one of whom went on to win the Derby itself just a fortnight ago. There is a perception that Bolger's stable went through lean times during the rise of O'Brien, though he felt able to dismiss that as "a rumour" yesterday. "Things are beginning to come right," he observed wryly.
The fact is that he had saddled only three winners here before yesterday, and two of those were in the Queen Alexandra Stakes, a treasured curio but hardly one of the jewels. But the man who once brought St Jovite to this track to win a King George by six lengths was never going to greet his success with an ingenuous show of wonder. "I suppose if I were 26 instead of 66, I might," he said. "I wouldn't be cocky enough to say that we came here confident. But I'm well equipped to handle this type of thing."
You could not knock him down with a mallet, as they say, and the same is doubly true of his horses. The man who last season ran Finsceal Beo in three Classics in 22 days brought Lush Lashes here just a fortnight after her petrol seemed to run dry in the Oaks. Moreover last month she won the Musidora Stakes at York only 10 days after finishing sixth in the 1,000 Guineas. Clearly she is hewn of similar granite to her master.
Her performances at York and Newmarket had mutually implied that a mile represented an inadequate test; conversely, at Epsom she seemed to fail for stamina. After watching her hold a handy position here with comfort, and then blunt the cutting edge of Infallible in the final furlong, Bolger declared that both interpretations were wrong. The problem at Epsom had been the track, not the trip, and she will accordingly step back up to a mile and a half for the Darley Irish Oaks.
There is no longer much point or interest in raking over Bolger's haphazard route to Epsom with New Approach. But the irony is not lost that neither Lush Lashes nor Michita, impressive in the Ribblesdale Stakes the previous day, had been able to cope with Tattenham Hill. Anyone would think they were trying to give the place a bad name.
As for Cuis Ghaire, on this firm ground she looked to be against the conveyor belt a furlong out, and found her stride only in the final 100 yards. But she won going away and Bolger vowed that her days at six furlongs are now over, and certainly she has done remarkably well to win three sprints on fast ground. With such a thorough grounding, she looks a perfect type for the 1,000 Guineas. Stan James, the Classic sponsors, already offer just 5-1, but you can get twice those odds with Blue Square.
Bolger will give her a break before the Ballygallon Stud Debutante Stakes at the Curragh on 8 August, followed by a Group One debut in the Moyglare Stud Stakes over the same track. "I've been excited about this filly since this time last year, just looking at her in the paddock," he admitted.
It might seem early enough to be talking about next year's Classics when the last of 2008 is still to be run, but the Ladbrokes St Leger was back on the top of the agenda by the end of the afternoon. Patkai's nine-length romp in the Queen's Vase multiplied Doncaster options for the connections of Tartan Bearer, the Derby runner-up, who had already seen another of their colts, Conduit, get closest to Campanologist in the King Edward VII Stakes.
Campanologist had relieved a barren week for Godolphin and Frankie Dettori, whose relief was transparent. "The boys in the weighing room had been hiding all knives and ropes from me," he grinned. "I've been getting so much stick from everybody, even Princess Anne yesterday. But I had a good partner, with a lot of courage."
Simon Crisford, the stable manager, expressed reservations about the extra distance of the Leger for Campanologist. Ladbrokes favour Tartan Bearer at 7-2, from Patkai on 4-1 and Conduit on 7-1, and surely Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of all three, is finally on the brink of exorcising his Leger curse. Asked for his view at this stage, he replied: "Sorry, what is the race called?" Perhaps he is worried that Bolger has one up his sleeve.
Nap: Honolulu(Royal Ascot 5.35)
NB: Mad Rush (Royal Ascot 5.00)