Poetic Flare is set to step up in trip for next week’s Irish Champion Stakes after trainer Jim Bolger decided against a clash with Baaeed in France on Sunday.
The duo had been in line to face off in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp, with Poetic Flare bringing Group One victories to the table having landed both the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes this term, while Baaeed is a rising star and unbeaten in four starts so far.
However, Bolger – who warned earlier in the week he would monitor weather conditions in deciding where he would run – has decided to plot a different course with Poetic Flare, instead opting to try 10 furlongs at Leopardstown with his Dawn Approach colt, who was last seen when just edged out by Palace Pier in a thrilling edition of the Prix Jacques le Marois.
He told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “I’ve got the weather forecast for the week, (and) while it’s going to rain, I don’t think it will be enough to produce soft ground, so I’m taking a chance and at this stage we’re saying we’re going to Leopardstown.”
In a stellar season, Poetic Flare has proved himself without doubt one of the toughest and best milers of recent years, as aside from his big-race victories and run behind Palace Pier he has also been second to stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish Guineas and runner-up to Alcohol Free in the Sussex Stakes.
Should he run in the feature on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend he is likely to meet two formidable opponents in Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica and the Dermot Weld-trained Tarnawa.
Bolger explained that a combination of financial factors and ground conditions at Leopardstown had been key to his decision rather than the potential opposition at either venue.
He said: “(I was tempted to run in France) because I thought Leopardstown might get more rain, but I’m reasonably satisfied now that the going will be OK at Leopardstown.
“I’m not thinking about which is tough, I’m just going for which race I think suits best on the day. I’m not concerned about who goes where – I’m only concerned about the going.
“I can’t be sure (10 furlongs will suit better than a mile), but weighing up all the considerations, it’s been fairly easy for me to opt for Leopardstown.
“If you want to look at the financial side, the winner in Longchamp would take home about 250,000, which is not inconsiderable, and at Leopardstown it will be almost 700,000 I reckon. As someone who has to run the sport come business in a reasonably financial manner, Leopardstown makes more appeal.
“Leopardstown is home as well and we don’t have to spend 80,000 on an aeroplane so for that reason, Leopardstown was a no-brainer but then I had to consider the going. They are the only considerations, I’m not concerned about who else is going there as long as there’s room for us.
“It’s been the best mile-and-a-quarter race in the world in the last number of years.”
While Bolger is not certain Poetic Flare will thrive for a mile and a quarter, he has seen plenty in his manner of racing to raise to indicate he will.
He said: “This fella wouldn’t know how to be in any other shape – only top shape. That’s the sort of horse he is. He pulls out with his tail up every morning, it doesn’t matter if it’s the day after a race, he’s the same. You just couldn’t give him too much.
“I won’t be confident (about 10 furlongs suiting) until after Saturday week, but I’m reasonably sure by the way he was coming home in his mile races off a very fast pace that he will stay the extra two furlongs.
“If you look at Ascot, (it was) a record time for the race – even faster than the great horses that have won it in the past, including Frankel. He didn’t seem to be stopping as he approached the line so I’m reasonably confident he will get the trip and if he doesn’t, so be it.”
Although Poetic Flare and Baaeed will now not meet in France, Bolger raised the possibility of a clash in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day next month.
He added: “(William Haggas) wouldn’t have been too concerned about who turned up (at Deauville) either because I’m sure he feels the same way about his horse. From what we’ve seen he’s entitled to feel that way.
“It would have been interesting and maybe we’ll meet at Ascot.”