After a Derby nightmare for Jim Bolger, a Derby dream. Last night at the Curragh, the 6-1 chance Trading Leather put to bed the memory of his stablemate Dawn Approach’s awful last place at Epsom with a convincing victory in Ireland’s premier Classic.
In the process, he transferred disappointment from Coolcullen to Ballydoyle as the Epsom hero Ruler Of The World, 4-5 favourite to give Aidan O’Brien an eighth Irish Derby in a row, himself flopped horribly in a never remotely threatening fifth place.
Bolger has always held Trading Leather, a son of his unbeaten juvenile champion Teofilo, in some esteem and has plotted him briskly and skilfully through the elite three-year-old ranks during the past six weeks. The colt relished his first attempt at a mile and a half as he forged to the front under Kevin Manning more than two furlongs out and stayed on strongly to beat Derby third Galileo Rock (9-1) a length and three-quarters.
The O’Brien second string, Festive Cheer at 33-1, took the minor honours from Godolphin pacemaker Cap O’Rushes.
Trading Leather, who gave his Co Carlow-based trainer a second Irish Derby after St Jovite 21 years ago, had opened his campaign as runner-up to Libertarian in the Dante Stakes at York last month but, with Dawn Approach his stable’s Derby first choice, did not go to Epsom.
“He was a bit rusty in the Dante,” said Bolger, “but we knew he’d improve from there. He’s not easy at home, he takes a lot of riding and keeping under control, and I can’t credit my staff enough. But he settled beautifully tonight and I was very happy from flagfall.”
Bolger bred not only Trading Leather, who races in the colours of his wife, Jackie, but also the colt’s sire and dam.
Trading Leather, who raced much closer to the strong pace set by long shot Ralston Road than did the two in front of him in the market, provided a first success in his country’s richest contest (with a first prize of £589,430 yesterday) for Manning, Bolger’s son-in-law. “He stays and he has pace,” he said of the dark bay colt, “but I was a bit afraid I’d hit the front too soon.”