It is hard to say which seemed more familiar here yesterday – the way a horse prepared by Jim Bolger ripped off the gloves so willingly, in an unsparing duel for the Derrinstown Derby Trial, or the gently mocking deportment of his trainer in the winner's enclosure afterwards.
Light Heavy showed all the fortitude associated with the Bolger regime to wear down Tower Rock, the Ballydoyle colt who had clung stubbornly to the lead even as his more fancied stablemate, Wrote, began to falter. But while this race recently produced three consecutive Epsom winners, Light Heavy does not even hold an entry in the Investec Derby – a circumstance, it must be said, that did not appear to cause Bolger the remotest regret.
For one thing, he already has another colt he considers at least as eligible for Epsom, in Parish Hall. But this noted patriot also seemed satisfied that his home Derby, at the Curragh in July, represents no less dignified an ambition. And, even if he felt otherwise, he could evidently find better uses for £80,000 than to supplement Light Heavy for Epsom. "I represent the poor in racing," he smiled.
The very fact that both Parish Hall and Light Heavy are home-bred sons of the stallion he made, Teofilo, invites due scepticism about that remark. But his mild air of apathy irresistibly evoked the way he discounted Epsom before New Approach was finally diverted there to win the 2008 Derby. That colt's first priority had been another Curragh Classic, the Irish 2,000 Guineas, in which he was beaten only by Henrythenavigator, and the same holds true of Parish Hall – even though the two races are this time divided by a single week.
Bolger, predictably, perceives nothing audacious in that schedule. "Sure there's nothing around to give him a tough race there," he declared, reminding everyone that he had compared Parish Hall to Teofilo and New Approach after he emulated their success in the Dewhurst Stakes at two. As for Light Heavy, he owed his neck success to sheer pluck, having beaten the runner-up comprehensively in softer going in a recent meeting over course and distance. "He's not the same horse on that ground," Bolger said. "But he got the job done, and that's a relief. He's a little bit idle, and when we put the cheekpieces on at home it seemed to move him up a gear. I'd lack the courage to take them off now."
Meanwhile, Bolger's one-time protégé, Aidan O'Brien experienced a difficult afternoon in the Paris sunshine. His son, Joseph, twice finished strongly in the straight to make the podium on raiders from their stable in the Longchamp Classics – but there would be a tragic postscript. Furner's Green, who finished fastest of all for third in a bunch finish behind Lucayan in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, broke down after the post. While O'Brien Jr was fortunate to escape injury when catapulted into the ground, his mount had sustained a fracture to his off-fore and could not be saved. The incident placed in perspective the misfortune of Dabirsim, the favourite, who ultimately flattened out into sixth after being hampered. Connections now incline to the view that he does not see out a mile.
There was no such anti-climax about Beauty Parlour, who extended her unbeaten record in the fillies' version by quickening in the straight and comfortably holding O'Brien Jr and his mount, Up, as they rattled through from the rear. It must now be hoped that Elie Lellouche will now bring her over to Royal Ascot for the Coronation Stakes.
Chris McGrath's Nap: Travelling (4.45 Wolverhampton)
Won her maiden round here after showing promise in stronger company and, while not really building on that since, is entitled to a fresh start for her flourishing new trainer, Marco Botti.
Next best: Beckermet (2.30 Redcar)
Rejuvenated last year and has soon mirrored his stable's return to form this time round, a strong finish after being outpaced at Doncaster suggesting this seventh furlong as his optimum now.
One to watch: After winning first time out, Bob's World (Jennie Candlish) remained green in a hot handicap at Chester last week but shaped well, going nicely off the pace until meeting traffic.
Where the money's going: Main Sequence is 20-1 from 25-1 with William Hill for the Investec Derby after extending his unbeaten record at Lingfield on Saturday.