Parish Hall is still on target for a crack at the Epsom Derby in 10 days time according to his trainer Jim Bolger. He will run on Saturday in the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas and if all goes well and he comes out of the race in good shape he’ll then head across the water to Epsom.
Bolger really likes Parish Hall, saying he is “as good a colt as I’ve had”, which is high praise from a trainer who has had Group 1 winning colts St Jovite, New Approach and Parish Hall’s daddy Teofilo in his care. He believes a Classic double is possible.
Certainly Parish Hall was well fancied for the English 2000 Guineas (well, he had my money on him), but he didn’t run because the soft ground didn’t suit him. The forecast at the Curragh is promising, with the ground drying out and expected to be better than the current good to yielding. Bolger said, “Parish Hall hasn’t run this year because he hasn’t had his ground, so we’re looking forward to good ground at the weekend.”
Winning will be a tough ask for Parish Hall, who hasn’t raced since winning the Dewhurst last year. Still in the field at yesterday’s confirmation stage is a seven strong team from Ballydoyle, though Nephrite, Power and Wrote have all disappointed this season. France, in the shape of Newmarket Guineas third Hermival, provide the favourite for the race, as low as 7/2 with Totesport and Betfred, and a win for him would make it first time lucky for trainer Mikel Delzangles, who has never had a runner in Ireland yet.
Parish Hall, Power, Takar and Guineas fourth Trumpet Major from Richard Hannon’s yard, are vying for second place in the market at 6/1.
Looking ahead Epsom Bolger said, “Having only one week between the Irish Guineas and Epsom isn’t ideal, so hopefully Parish Hall won’t have a hard race on Saturday. But he’s very well and a good, tough horse. We’ll see at the weekend how things go before any Derby decision is made.”
Now what does he mean by that? Does Bolger believe he has a horse to give him a second Derby success, in which case Saturday’s race is effectively a prep run and he won’t have a hard time? Or would he be happy to break his duck in the Irish 2000 Guineas and go for Epsom if Parish Hall is OK?