Posts

Mac Swiney leads home Irish Guineas one-two for Jim Bolger

Jim Bolger dominated the finish of the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh with Mac Swiney just edging out stable companion Poetic Flare.

Mac Swiney, a Group One winner at two, had disappointed on his return to action in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, but was subsequently found to be suffering from a nasal discharge.

Poetic Flare was already running in his third Classic of the season, having won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket before finishing only sixth in the French version just six days ago.

The race was run in a heavy rain shower as Rory Cleary, riding by far the biggest winner of his career, set out to make all on Mac Swiney and his rivals dropped away one by one.

Only stablemate Poetic Flare put up a challenge and Kevin Manning looked to be travelling marginally the better.

However, just when Manning began to ask his mount for everything, Poetic Flare hung across the track slightly, eventually being beaten a short head in the 100th running of the Classic. Van Gogh stayed on to be third.

Coral cut Mac Swiney to 7-1 from 20s for the Cazoo Derby next month.

Bolger was not at the track, but his daughter Una Manning confirmed Epsom is the target for the winner.

She said: “I just spoke to the boss and obviously he’s absolutely delighted with the horse and very pleased with Poetic Flare as well.

“I’d say it was probably a race for horses that stay the mile well with the conditions.

“The plan is to go to Epsom with Mac Swiney and we’ll see how Poetic Flare comes out of the race before deciding whether he’ll go to Ascot for the St James Palace.”

Manning, who is married to the rider of the runner-up, hailed her father’s decision to run both colts at the Curragh.

She added: “He’s not afraid to take on a challenge. He was talking about running the two horses and I said ‘wouldn’t it be great if Poetic Flare won and Mac Swiney was second and then went to Epsom and did a New Approach’.

“It ended up the other way around. I myself am a little disappointed for Kevin that he wasn’t on the winner, but on the other hand Rory has been such a loyal second jockey in the yard for so many years that he very much deserves this win.

“I think Kevin was happy enough to ride Poetic Flare. He said to me last week, after Longchamp, maybe we should just run the two of them in the Guineas and it would leave Mac Swiney right for Epsom.

“We’ve always had faith in Mac Swiney. He wasn’t quite himself at Leopardstown, but that does happen with horses and nowadays we all know about the mucus because we can scope them, so it’s different to years ago when you wouldn’t know.”

The winner is named after the Irish playwright, author and politician Terence MacSwiney and Manning added: “This is Rory’s day and Mac Swiney’s day and Terence MacSwiney’s memory will live on for another while.”

Rory Cleary celebrates aboard Mac Swiney
Rory Cleary celebrates aboard Mac Swiney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Cleary was thrilled to have landed an Irish Classic, but admitted he was struggling to register his achievement.

He said: “I still can’t believe it. I was quietly nervous about having to ride him. I’ve never ridden a fancied horse in it – in a big race – never mind a Classic.

“He’s such a special horse to get a ride on. The boss this morning just told me to jump out good and smart and ride a race on him and see how it unfolds.

“The further we went, the better he was going under me, and he stayed at it so well. I think the ground, with it being a bit on the wet side, his stamina really came into play.

“He’s so honest – I just can’t believe I’m after winning the Guineas.

“Kevin (Manning on Poetic Flare) came to me and we quickened away together again. I think they’re two very smart horses.

“My lad really just stuck his head out for me. I think somebody was looking down on me because they made it easy for me.”

There was a sting in the tail for the winning rider though, with Cleary getting a six-day suspension for excessive use of the whip.

Harrington sights set on Guineas victory for Vega

Jessica Harrington expects Lucky Vega to put up a bold bid for Classic glory in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Already a Group One winner at the Curragh, having claimed an impressive victory in the Phoenix Stakes last summer, the three-year-old made a promising start to the new campaign when a close-up third in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago.

He is set to renew rivalry with Jim Bolger’s Rowley Mile hero Poetic Flare, but as he could only finish sixth in last weekend’s French 2000 Guineas, Lucky Vega is the clear favourite to turn the tables on home soil.

All of those who ran on fast ground at Newmarket can expect to encounter very different conditions this weekend, with the ground so testing that course officials held an inspection on Saturday morning before giving the card the go-ahead.

“He’s been great – I’m very happy with him,” Harrington said of Lucky Vega.

“This is a severe switch round on ground. I was a little bit worried going to Newmarket on good to firm ground, even though he’d won on it as a two-year-old – and now we’re going to be on soft ground at the Curragh.

“He saw out the mile very well at Newmarket, and has a really relaxed way of going. He has won on easy ground before (Phoenix Stakes, good to yielding), so I’m hoping all will be fine. It’s going to be the same for everyone.

“It’s the beginning of the year, so it’s who is improving really – he’s a very relaxed horse at home.”

Aidan O’Brien, who has already won the Irish 2,000 Guineas on a record 11 occasions, this year fires a dual assault.

Van Gogh fared best of the duo when eighth in the Newmarket equivalent, with Wembley ultimately disappointing in finishing 11th.

O’Brien said of Van Gogh: “He was very close to being fifth in the Guineas, he just got tired in the last 50 yards. Maybe our Newmarket horses were a couple of weeks behind where we thought they were.

“He came out of the race very well. He is a big, strong traveller. He had very good form at the back-end of last year and we have been very happy with him since as well.

“He has form on soft ground in France, but I don’t think he needs it, we always thought he’d be better on nice ground.”

Wembley (left) chased home St Mark's Basilica on soft in the Dewhurst
Wembley (left) chased home St Mark’s Basilica on soft in the Dewhurst (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“It’s a shame about the weather, but that’s the way it is.

“Wembley has form on soft ground in the Dewhurst, but we always thought he wanted nice ground. At least he has some form on soft, though.”

Battleground was a late non-runner for O’Brien.

British hopes are carried by Charlie Appleby’s La Barrosa and the Hugo Palmer-trained The Rosstafarian.

La Barrosa was last seen pushing stablemate and subsequent 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas close in the Craven Stakes Stakes.

La Barrosa pushed Master Of The Seas close in the Craven
La Barrosa pushed Master Of The Seas close in the Craven (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“La Barrosa disappointed on testing ground at Saint-Cloud (last year), but we feel there were other contributing factors. It was the end of the season and he scoped dirty post-race, so I think you can put a bit of a line through that run,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“His preparation has gone well and he put up a very good performance behind Master Of The Seas on his three-year-old return.

“A repeat of that effort should make him very competitive.”

The Rosstafarian, who is owned by Middleham Park Racing, was fifth in the Craven.

Middleham Park’s Tom Palin said: “The horse did a fantastic pace of work this week – Hugo couldn’t have been happier.

“It’s amazing how in the last three weeks since we decided not to go for the English Guineas he has really matured and grown up.

“Michael Hills rides him in all his pieces of work and he had a real job pulling him up the other day. We couldn’t be happier with how he is at home. The penny has dropped since the Craven. He’s a much more street-wise horse than what we had.

“It’s going to be quite a test on stamina, but he’s a horse we think we’ll be looking at running over nine or 10 furlongs. I don’t think he’ll be beaten for stamina in the soft ground.”

Curragh officials ‘hopeful’ as deluge puts Irish 2,000 Guineas card in doubt

Officials at the Curragh are more hopeful than confident about the chances of Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas card going ahead after calling a morning inspection for 7.30am.

Pat Keogh, chief executive at the home of Irish Flat racing, confirmed the course is currently unraceable after being hit by a volume of rain far in excess of what was forecast.

Keogh said: “We got lot more rain than we anticipated overnight. We were forecast 15 millimetres at the most in the last 24 hours, and got 35 millimetres.

“It’s come completely out of left field, unfortunately.

“The track would not be raceable today. Most of the track is raceable, but there are a few areas (that are waterlogged) and we will look to get that off the track.

“We’ll just have to monitor things as we go along. If more rain came than was forecast that would give us a problem.

“We’re hopeful, but we will have a precautionary inspection tomorrow morning.”

Saturday’s card is also set to feature three further Group races, while the Curragh is scheduled to stage the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday.

Heavy rain resulted in morning inspections for both Friday’s jumps cards in Ireland too, at Wexford and Downpatrick.

Both those meetings will go ahead, however – on going which is heavy, soft in places at Wexford and yielding to soft, soft in places at Downpatrick.

Curragh to inspect before Saturday’s Irish 2,000 Guineas card

Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas card will be subject to a morning inspection at the Curragh – with parts of the track waterlogged.

The 7.30am inspection for day one of the Irish Guineas weekend was announced following 34mm of rain at the track, via a Tweet on the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board account.

It read: “@curraghrace Inspection at 7.30am Saturday. After 34mm of rain in last 24hrs, the ground is heavy (Str) & soft to heavy (Rnd). Parts of track waterlogged around 6f & 4f in Straight. Further rain today (approx 5mm according to Met Éireann), unsettled tomorrow with showers.”

Saturday’s card is also set to feature three further Group races, while the Curragh is scheduled to stage the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday.

Heavy rain resulted in morning inspections for both Friday’s jumps cards in Ireland too, at Wexford and Downpatrick.

Both those meetings will go ahead, however – on going which is heavy, soft in places at Wexford and yielding to soft, soft in places at Downpatrick.

Bolger retains faith in Flare ahead of Irish Guineas challenge

Jim Bolger admits “the wheels came off” Poetic Flare’s bid to win a second Classic in France last weekend, but expects a different display in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday.

The Dawn Approach colt came out on top in a three-way photo in the Guineas at Newmarket at the beginning of May, but finished only sixth at ParisLongchamp when bidding for a double.

“The wheels kind of came off the wagon a little bit there, but we’ve drawn a line through it and we’re moving on,” said Bolger.

“It was the conditions mainly. While I agree the going was very soft, he couldn’t get a grip for whatever reason and I suspect there was a little bit of padding underneath and he couldn’t get a grip, it was coming away with him.

“He wasn’t going to be able to quicken up like he can in those circumstances and Kevin didn’t get him to where he wanted to be at the two furlong marker. It was just one of those things and we’re moving on.”

Despite the quick turnaround, Bolger believes his latest star is still on good terms with himself and expects a bold show.

“He’s very well, he only had a furlong and a half of a race, so we expected he’d be fresh after it,” he told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“He’s very durable and has a great constitution. He’d be able to stand up to whatever I throw at him.

“Lucky Vega has to be the danger. He ran a blinder at Newmarket and if he’s as effective on soft ground or heavy, he’ll take all the beating.”

Bolger also runs a second string in Group One-winning juvenile Mac Swiney, who the trainer still hopes can book his ticket for the Cazoo Derby after disappointing in a trial – for which a reason emerged.

“Mac Swiney was flat in the Derrinstown and didn’t perform at all well, the following morning he had a very copious nasal discharge, but that cleared up over the following weekend. He’s back in work and is doing very well,” said Bolger.

“I need to get the run into him for Epsom and for him to prove his well being. If he does that, I’ll be very happy with him. If he can beat Poetic Flare he can win, but I think at a mile Poetic Flare is the better horse.

“He (Mac Swiney) has all the attributes (for Epsom). He has the class, the constitution and the temperament, he has all of that. I’d be very comfortable going to Epsom with him, provided we get a good show at the Curragh.”

Aidan O’Brien sends three as he aims to take his record score to 12 in the colts Classic at the Curragh.

Battleground, Van Gogh and Wembley represent the Ballydoyle handler on Saturday – but all have to bounce back after being well-beaten at Newmarket behind Poetic Flare.

Ryan Moore will ride Wembley again, with Wayne Lordan on Battleground and Seamie Heffernan teaming up with Van Gogh.

Mac Swiney is one of two Classic contenders from Jim Bolger's stable
Mac Swiney is one of two Classic contenders from Jim Bolger’s stable (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Heading the ante-post betting is the Jessica Harrington-trained Lucky Vega, who was third to Poetic Flare at Newmarket.

There are two British-trained challengers – Charlie Appleby’s La Barrosa and The Rosstafarian from Hugo Palmer’s stable.

The latter held other engagements, including the Join Casumo Today Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock on Saturday, but connections have opted to have a tilt at a Classic.

Tom Palin, syndicate manager for owners Middleham Park Racing, said: “We’ve had him in a few races – including in Germany, but that is a logistical nightmare to get over there – so we thought the ground is likely to be pretty testing with rain forecast.

“He’s gone through soft ground at Salisbury on debut, and at Pontefract is was pretty testing.

“Our run in the Craven (fifth) was an unlucky run, but one you can mark up. The form has worked out well – with the winner Master Of The Seas, who went on to run a blinder in the English Guineas and finish a short-head second.

“Hugo has spoken to a few people in Ireland, and it was felt it was a race we should be considering at the entry stage.

“I know we’re going to go off at 33-1, 40-1 but it’s the stuff of dreams.”

Colin Keane has been booked for The Rosstafarian in the Irish 2,000 Guineas
Colin Keane has been booked for The Rosstafarian in the Irish 2,000 Guineas (PA)

Ireland’s champion jockey Colin Keane, who won the race last year on Siskin, has been booked for The Rosstafarian.

“His agent rang for the ride,” said Palin.

“If someone like him offers their services, then we were delighted to get him on board.

“We go there towards the bottom of the betting, but I think we will outrun our odds. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t finish in the first half of the field, but you need something to fall your way to get a bit further than that.

“If nothing else, it’s a sensible tilt.”

The field is completed by Agrimony, Emporio, Monaasib and Rebel Step. San Martino and Thunder Moon were the two horses withdrawn at the 48-hour final declaration stage.

Ballydoyle trio among 12 bidding for Irish 2,000 Guineas glory

Aidan O’Brien throws three darts at the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas as he aims to take his record score to 12 in the colts Classic at the Curragh.

Battleground, Van Gogh and Wembley represent the Ballydoyle handler on Saturday – but all have to bounce back after being well-beaten in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket behind Poetic Flare.

The latter is also among the 12-strong field, but Jim Bolger’s colt is on a retrieval mission after finishing only sixth in the French 2000 Guineas on Sunday.

Bolger also saddles Mac Swiney, winner of the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster but fifth on his seasonal debut at Leopardstown two weeks ago.

Mac Swiney is one of two Classic contenders from Jim Bolger's stable
Mac Swiney is one of two Classic contenders from Jim Bolger’s stable (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Heading the ante-post betting is the Jessica Harrington-trained Lucky Vega, who was third to Poetic Flare at Newmarket.

There are two British-trained challengers – Charlie Appleby’s La Barrosa and The Rosstafarian from Hugo Palmer’s stable.

The latter held other engagements, including the Join Casumo Today Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock on Saturday, but connections have opted to have a tilt at a Classic.

Tom Palin, syndicate manager for owners Middleham Park Racing, said: “We’ve had him in a few races – including in Germany, but that is a logistical nightmare to get over there – so we thought the ground is likely to be pretty testing with rain forecast.

“He’s gone through soft ground at Salisbury on debut, and at Pontefract is was pretty testing.

“Our run in the Craven (fifth) was an unlucky run but one you can mark up. The form has worked out well – with the winner Master Of The Seas, who went on to run a blinder in the English Guineas and finish a short-head second.

“Hugo has spoken to a few people in Ireland, and it was felt it was a race we should be considering at the entry stage.

“I know we’re going to go off at 33-1, 40-1 but it’s the stuff of dreams.”

Colin Keane has been booked for The Rosstafarian in the Irish 2,000 Guineas
Colin Keane has been booked for The Rosstafarian in the Irish 2,000 Guineas (PA)

Ireland’s champion jockey Colin Keane, who won the race last year on Siskin, has been booked for The Rosstafarian.

“His agent rang for the ride,” said Palin.

“If someone like him offers their services then we were delighted to get him on board.

“We go there towards the bottom of the betting, but I think we will outrun our odds. I’ll de disappointed if we don’t finish in the first half of the field, but you need something to fall your way to get a bit further than that.

“If nothing else, it’s a sensible tilt.”

The field is completed by Agrimony, Emporio, Monaasib and Rebel Step. San Martino and Thunder Moon were the two horses withdrawn at the 48-hour final declaration stage.

Poetic Flare in the mix for Irish Guineas despite French disappointment

Newmarket hero Poetic Flare could bid to bounce back from defeat in France last weekend by doubling his Classic tally in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

Jim Bolger’s colt followed in the hoofprints of his sire Dawn Approach to win a pulsating renewal of the 2000 Guineas over the Rowley Mile at the start of the month.

He was well fancied to follow up in Sunday’s French equivalent at ParisLongchamp – the Poule d’Essai des Poulains – but could only finish sixth behind Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica.

Poetic Flare could yet win another Guineas on home soil, however, while Bolger has also confirmed Mac Swiney for the Group One contest.

Should Poetic Flare take his chance, he is likely to be reopposed by several who finished behind him at Newmarket.

Jessica Harrington could saddle Lucky Vega, who was beaten just half a length into third, while O’Brien has left in Van Gogh, Wembley and Battleground, who all finished down the field at Headquarters.

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Thunder Moon is another who could bid to bounce back from Newmarket disappointment.

Monaasib is an interesting contender for veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast, having finished third behind Poetic Flare in last month’s 2,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown and arrives here fresh.

The two potential British challengers in a field of 14 are Charlie Appleby’s La Barrosa and Hugo Palmer’s The Rosstafarian, who were last seen finishing second and fifth respectively in the Craven Stakes.

Glen Shiel (centre) winning on Qipco British Champions Day
Glen Shiel (centre) winning on Qipco British Champions Day (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Glen Shiel heads 15 sprinters in the mix for the Group Two Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes.

The Archie Watson-trained seven-year-old looks set to make his first competitive appearance since winning the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October.

He is part of a strong British contingent that also includes Royal Commando (Charlie Hills), Summerghand (David O’Meara) and Last Empire (Kevin Ryan), while last year’s winner Speak In Colours (Joseph O’Brien) looks the pick of the home team.

Group Two honours are also up for grabs in the Lanwades Stud Stakes, with Johnny Murtagh’s Champers Elysees the highest-rated of eight four-year-old fillies confirmed.

The Group Three GAIN Marble Hill Stakes has attracted 14 speedy juveniles, including Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Cadamosto and The Entertainer and Masseto from Donnacha O’Brien’s yard.