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Poetic Flare still improving as Bolger eyes Sussex redemption

Poetic Flare is bidding for a third Group One in an already busy season in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Jim Bolger’s colt has already won the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes, as well as finishing a close second to stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish Guineas.

It was his Ascot performance which had the ratings gurus purring, though, as he won by more than four lengths in what was his fourth run in a little over six weeks.

“Poetic Flare has been very well since the St James’s Palace Stakes,” said Bolger.

“We’re very happy with his work, and he seems to be improving further. I was expecting and hoping for him to win at Ascot, but possibly not as spectacularly as he did.

“He’s only had a break in as much as he hasn’t been racing, but he’s a horse who I have to keep moving, and so it hasn’t exactly been a holiday. He’s very well, and I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Poetic Flare’s sire Dawn Approach lost only to Toronado in the Sussex in 2013, a reverse that still seems to rankle with Bolger, and he would love to make up for it in the latest Qipco British Champions Series event.

“Dawn Approach was a really good horse on good ground or faster, and the day he was beaten by Toronado in the Sussex Stakes it was officially good to soft,” said the County Carlow trainer.

“It was moving on top, so he never really got a hold of it. He didn’t like it.”

The deluges which turned the Goodwood going heavy for the start of this year’s meeting may not be in Poetic Flare’s favour either – but his trainer is not fretting.

Bolger added: “It was fast ground when Poetic Flare won at Ascot, and it might well be that he’s better on that better ground, but he seems to handle all going and he’s pretty good on soft too.

“My preference would be for good ground, but I’m not much given to worrying anyway. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. I’m very happy with my horse, and I don’t worry too much about anybody else’s.”

Poetic Flare may have most to fear from the two fillies, Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern.

The latter came out on top in the Falmouth Stakes, having finishing behind Alcohol Free in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Snow Lantern flew fast and late to win the Falmouth
Snow Lantern flew fast and late to win the Falmouth (Tim Goode/PA)

Snow Lantern’s trainer Richard Hannon decided to stay at a mile rather than go up in trip for the Nassau later in the week. Jamie Spencer replaces the suspended Sean Levey in the saddle.

Hannon said: “Snow Lantern looked a very good filly in the Falmouth, and she was probably at her strongest at the line, so I don’t think the longer trip in the Nassau would have been any problem.

“But we are sticking to a mile for now, because we know she is very good at the trip.

“The ground was a big factor too, because she showed she could handle the soft when she ran so well in the Coronation Stakes, and one or two others might not be so good on it. It’s a hot race, but it would be a very nice one to win if we could.”

Andrew Balding said of Alcohol Free: “She’s a high-class filly, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“It looks like conditions should be ideal. It’s a very strong race, as it should be.

Alcohol Free won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot
Alcohol Free won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

“The turning track seemed to suit her really well when she won at Royal Ascot, so I think Goodwood will suit her really well.

“At Newmarket in the Falmouth it wasn’t the plan to make the running, and she rather set it up for the others. Hopefully if there’s some sort of pace to aim at she’s got a fairly electric turn of foot. I’m really excited about her.”

The Charlie Hills-trained Tilsit is progressing nicely and took the Summer Mile comfortably enough last time out

“His Group One defeat in France at the start of the season was frustrating, because he was in front just before the line and just after the line,” said Hills.

“I was really pleased with his subsequent win in the Summer Mile at Ascot – he did it in great style. He’s probably come out of Ascot the best he’s come out of any race – he’s in great form.

“He won a Group Three at the meeting last year, so we know he handles the track.”

Aidan O’Brien, who declared Battleground a non-runner on Monday, is still represented by Lope Y Fernandez and Breeders’ Cup winner Order Of Australia.

“We are looking forward to Lope Y Fernandez and we think he’s come forward again since Ascot (second to Palace Pier),” said O’Brien.

“We are very happy with him. He’s very straightforward and is progressing well.

“Order Of Australia has come out of his win at the Curragh very well, and the Sussex Stakes is a race which could suit him. He’s a hardy older horse who likes fast ground, and a mile is probably his trip – he gets it very well.”

Poetic Flare tops bill as 10 bid for Sussex Stakes

Poetic Flare is the star attraction among 10 contenders for the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Jim Bolger’s charge has been kept busy since claiming Classic glory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May – finishing sixth in the French Guineas and runner-up in the Irish Guineas before his sensational victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The son of Dawn Approach is a red-hot favourite to add to his Group One tally when he faces his elders for the first time on Wednesday.

Aidan O’Brien, who has saddled five previous winners of the Sussex Stakes, this year runs Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia and Queen Anne runner-up Lope Y Fernandez. Battleground, who won the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last summer, was initially also declared for Ballydoyle but is a non-runner after a bad scope.

The two fillies in the field are familiar rivals Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern. Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free came out on top when the pair met in last month’s Coronation Stakes, but the Richard Hannon-trained Snow Lantern turned the tables in the Falmouth three weeks ago.

Hannon has a second string to his bow in Chindit, who finished fifth behind Poetic Flare in both the Guineas and the St James’s Palace, while Tilsit is stepped back up in grade by Charlie Hills after winning Ascot’s Summer Mile.

Andre Fabre’s French raider Duhail, Simon and Ed Crisford’s Century Dream and Space Traveller from Richard Fahey’s yard also feature.

Guineas winner Poetic Flare stands tall in Sussex Stakes

Poetic Flare will face a maximum of 11 rivals in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday.

Jim Bolger’s 2000 Guineas hero has already run five times this season, but appears to be thriving on his racing judged on his sensational performance in last month’s St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

With star older miler Palace Pier withdrawn as expected following unsatisfactory blood results, Poetic Flare is a red-hot favourite to add to his Group One tally next week.

Aidan O’Brien retains a strong hand, with Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia and Queen Anne runner-up Lope Y Fernandez confirmed along with two other stablemates in Battleground and Wembley.

There are two top-class fillies in contention, with Richard Hannon’s Snow Lantern and the Andrew Balding-trained Alcohol Free potentially renewing rivalry. Alcohol Free came out on top in the Coronation Stakes, but Snow Lantern reversed the form in the Falmouth at Newmarket.

Hannon could also call upon Chindit, Charlie Hills is set to saddle Summer Mile winner Tilsit and Duhail could be sent across the Channel by leading French trainer Andre Fabre.

Century Dream (Simon and Ed Crisford) and Space Traveller (Richard Fahey) are the other hopefuls.

Bolger eyes first Sussex Stakes with Poetic Flare

Poetic Flare will bid to go one better than his sire Dawn Approach, for trainer Jim Bolger, in Goodwood’s Qatar Sussex Stakes next week.

Bolger’s colt has won three of his five starts in a hugely successful three-year-old campaign so far – which has included victory in both the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, emulating his sire in the process.

If he prevails again on day two of the Goodwood Festival, Poetic Flare will be providing his trainer with a first victory in the Sussex Stakes – in which the County Carlow yard’s 2013 Guineas hero Dawn Approach had to settle for an honourable second in his Classic year.

The British heatwave is likely to leave conditions at Goodwood no slower than good next Wednesday.

Bolger said: “He handles soft ground but he’s better on good ground.

“He is very well balanced, so I don’t think Goodwood holds any problems for him.”

Poetic Flare has inherited many of Dawn Approach’s characteristics.

“He’s a heavyweight in every regard and is over 500kg,” said Bolger.

“He’s a very easy horse to manage, because he knows his job and he thrives on racing.

“He has a great appetite for eating and for working – he’s just like his sire Dawn Approach in every way.”

“He has one more bit of work to get through and will then arrive at Goodwood on Monday.

“It’s a very special race and a race I’ve not won before.”

Monday Musings: Of Long Days and the Classic Generation

June 21st is upon us. The longest day was to be the freest day until the timid medical advisors to the UK government put the wind up them with fears that the D variant – the virus formerly known as Indian – would cause another surge in infections, writes Tony Stafford.

Well it has, averaging around 10,000 a day for the last week or so, but they are testing many, many more nowadays. Anyone prepared to go anywhere near a racecourse will have enjoyed the experience of things up their nose or aimed at their tonsils.

Since mine were removed in 1952, the year of the Queen’s ascent to the throne – rewarded with a nice ice cream <me, not the Queen> as I recall – I would only be eligible for the nose job, but apparently it’s very much an officialdom-rich environment.

While the infections have risen, the numbers dying most emphatically have not, an average of ten a day for the last week when the “roadmap” was hastily and negatively redrawn. With massive numbers of older people fully vaccinated you wouldn’t expect many deaths, but the silly old advisors want it both ways.

As I’ve said numerous times, I won’t go until everyone is free to go everywhere. I contented myself with a Saturday night day-early Father’s Day celebration with my three 40-plus children and a selection of their issue. Lovely it was too.

So on to the summer and of course from tonight the days will shorten inexorably by three minutes for each of the next 182 and then the semi-cycle will start again the other way round. We’ve already had Royal Ascot and ten of the 12 spring/summer European Classic races – only Ireland’s Derby and Oaks remain in that part of the calendar, and then the St Legers in their various forms and degrees of credibility.

The Irish have won eight of the ten, Jim Bolger picking up the 2,000 Guineas with Poetic Flare and his domestic version with Mac Swiney. Poetic Flare’s demolition job in the St James’s Palace Stakes certainly puts him well ahead among the mile colts this year.

The two Classics decided so far and not to have been won by the Irish have been the Poule D’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000) won by Coeursamba, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, and  the Derby (Adayar, Charlie Appleby).

The remaining six have all been hoovered up by Aidan O’Brien and the Ballydoyle team and each of them boasts combinations of the increasingly complex Coolmore pedigrees.

Five individual horses have been involved in those all-important Classic victories, and four of them are fillies. I contend that St Mark’s Basilica, despite his workmanlike victory in the French 2,000 (Poulains) and a more comfortable Prix Du Jockey Club success, both under Ioritz Mendizabal, is vastly under-valued in official terms. He beat a big field in Chantilly and his female stable-companion Joan Of Arc (by Galileo, <really?!, Ed?>) was similarly too good for another large field of home fillies in yesterday’s French Oaks, the Prix de Diane. This time Coeursamba finished only 11th.

On Sunday Aidan relied on a single runner in a field of 17 and the 16 home defenders were no match for another Mendizabal mount who won by just over a length from the fast-finishing Fabre-trained and Godolphin-owned Philomene, a daughter of Dubawi.

That made it single-runner O’Brien challenges in three of the four French Classic races to be run so far – unplaced Van Gogh joined St Mark’s Basilica in the Jockey Club.  Therefore three wins and a close second (Mother Earth, ridden by Christophe Soumillon) in the French 1,000. That new-found minimalist approach also extended to Epsom and the Derby where Bolshoi Ballet, the favourite, was left as their only runner having been initially one of six expected to turn out.

Three of the four fillies in question improved markedly on juvenile form, the exception being 1,000 Guineas winner and then Pouliches runner-up Mother Earth, who had already earned her 111 rating for her second place in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf race at Keeneland last November and remains on that figure despite her Classic exploits. She ran another game race in third in much the most testing ground she has faced in Friday’s Coronation Stakes at Ascot behind Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free.

Joan Of Arc took a rating of 105 into the Irish 1,000 and was Ryan Moore’s choice for the race but Seamie Heffernan got up on the line that day aboard Empress Josephine (101) in a private duel between two Galileo fillies. She clearly improved on that yesterday while Emperor Josephine was assessed at 109 after her win.

But the biggest eye-opener was Snowfall, the 16-length Oaks winner at Epsom who went into her prep in the Musidora at York on an official mark of 90. That was upped to 108 after her Knavesmire romp but even so she was still believed by insiders to be second-best among a more normal Oaks quintet behind lightly-raced Santa Barbara, now beaten favourite in both this year’s fillies’ classics in the UK.

It seems to me a master-stroke of fudging by the BHA to restrict Snowfall’s latest mark to 120, not merely because that is 2lb lower than Enable after her Oaks defeat of Rhododendron – what that champion did after Epsom has nothing to do with the assessment - and also 1lb less than Adayar.

The give-away for me is to suggest that Mystery Angel, rated 100 after her fourth (four lengths back) in the Musidora had only equalled her York mark. That ignored she made the running at Epsom in a much bigger field and still had the resources left to stay on and retain second 16 lengths behind the Frankie Dettori-ridden winner, finishing well ahead of a trio of considerably more highly-rated fillies.

If the medical advisors who keep us wearing masks and touching fists rather than shaking hands are timid, they have nothing on the BHA men who fear giving too high a rating to a Classic winner, even one who has set a record winning distance for any UK Classic in living memory and beyond.

Snowfall has made the first big statement that she might be a challenger to Love, her predecessor as an outstanding Oaks winner and star of the stable’s slightly disappointing Royal Ascot, as the season progresses. Love, dropping back two furlongs after a ten-month absence since the 2020 Yorkshire Oaks, made all to win the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

A third female deserving of mention in that elite grouping must be the David Menuisier-trained four-year-old filly, Wonderful Tonight. She got first run on Broome to win Saturday’s Hardwicke Stakes in style despite its being her first appearance of the year. Her French-born Sussex-based trainer has the Arc, where she has a good chance of getting the soft ground she favours, as her main target.

Broome may not have won but earlier that afternoon his close relative by Australia, the two-year-old Point Lonsdale, won the Chesham Stakes, a race often reserved for the best of the earlier O’Brien juveniles. Ryan had a battle keeping him straight, first going right and as they got close home, more markedly left, but they had enough in hand to beat the Queen’s promising colt Reach For The Moon – Sea The Stars/ Gosdens / Dettori – by half a length.

We had wondered why she chose Saturday to make an appearance. That highly-encouraging performance and the good run later of her King’s Lynn in the Wokingham made it a bit more like Royal Ascot, even when viewed from Hackney Wick. Hopefully, Your Majesty, you and me (and many others besides) can be there for the whole five days in 2022.

The astonishing thing about all four female Coolmore Classic winners is that at no time did anyone at Ballydoyle, and certainly not the trainer nor the owners, believe any of them was within hailing distance of Santa Barbara. My guess from Epsom was that the favourite probably did not stay the mile and a half under the conditions and in the quirky way the race was run, up the stands side with all the direction changing that inevitably happens.

I’m looking forward to seeing her, in what still will be only her fourth race and with a highly-creditable close fourth to Mother Earth at Newmarket on her record, in a suitable race over ten furlongs. The Nassau would be nice, but maybe she won’t be the only one from her stable appearing in that Goodwood Group 1.

 

Poetic Flare rules supreme in St James’s Palace demolition

Poetic Flare produced a performance of supreme brilliance to leave his rivals toiling in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Jim Bolger’s charge had won the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier in the season, run respectably in the French equivalent on soft ground and then been touched off by stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish version.

As he had already won a Guineas trial before Newmarket he was having his fifth run of the season – and had obviously thrived for it.

Kevin Manning had the son of Dawn Approach in the box seat throughout and in truth the result never looked in any doubt as soon as he moved his partner into a challenging position.

The veteran rider waited until a furlong and a half out before pushing the button and the response was immediate. The 7-2 favourite shot clear and crossed the line four and a quarter lengths clear of Lucky Vega. Battleground ran on for third, with Maximal fourth.

Quotes for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood were quick to arrive and Betfair went 7-2 from 10-1.

Bolger told Sky Sports Racing from his County Carlow base: “I’m very relaxed about it. I have tremendous confidence in this horse and I was expecting him to go and do that. Thanks to all my staff and everybody who has helped.

“We always knew he was hardy from the word go, even when he was being broken in you couldn’t keep him quiet.

“We’ve bred from the family since the very early 1980s, so a long time.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall speak to jockey Kevin Manning
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall speak to jockey Kevin Manning (Steven Paston/PA)

“When you have a horse winning the St James’s Palace like that you don’t really think about all the relatives and the breeding, you wouldn’t care if he came to you off the back of a truck as long as you had him.

“This horse is so hardy he’s unbelievable, you have to give it to him to keep his back down.”

On plans, he added: “Kevin will be itching to have a crack at the older horses.”

Manning said: “He was probably better today than he has been all year.

“He travelled very well – I arrived there at the two-pole and couldn’t believe how well I was travelling and when I asked him he put it to bed very quickly.

“I wasn’t worried that he’d been busy, Jim was very happy with him and said he’d never had a horse leave the yard in the shape he was in and I thought that as well. With that sort of confidence behind me, I had no worries.

“I had a lovely position, everything went very smooth and when I switched him out he put the race to bed in a few strides.

“He’s very good, very smart. He handles every ground, but he’s obviously much pacier on this ground.

“It means everything to the guys at home in the yard to have a horse like this. I just turn up on the day and ride them.”

Kevin Manning celebrates
Kevin Manning celebrates (Steven Paston/PA)

“To get this horse here after the runs he’s had is unbelievable.

“I owe Jim everything, and I’d also like to say ‘well done’ to all the lads in the yard who have kept this lad on the go.”

Lucky Vega once again found Poetic Flare too strong, just like at Newmarket and the Curragh, and he will now head to stud in Australia.

His trainer Jessica Harrington said: “He certainly proved he stayed every yard of the mile against a horse that has beaten him three times now.

“I think there will be an announcement in Australia and I will be very sad to lose him because in my opinion he would certainly have won a Group One if he’d remained here.”

Poetic Flare seeks to uphold family tradition in St James’s Palace

Poetic Flare bids to emulate his sire Dawn Approach by adding the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot to his 2000 Guineas success.

Dawn Approach took both races for trainer Jim Bolger in 2013, and now his son seeks to maintain family honour and complete the same Group One double in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series on Tuesday.

Poetic Flare has already had four races this season – finishing sixth in the French Guineas and runner-up to stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish Guineas since his Classic triumph at Newmarket.

Dawn Approach was having only his third start of the campaign when he edged out Toronado in a thrilling battle on Ascot’s round mile in 2013.

“It’s been an extraordinary season, with just one real hiccup (in the French 2000 Guineas) and another that was self-inflicted at the Curragh,” said Bolger.

“Nothing went right in the race at Longchamp, and we’ve drawn a line through it. He came back very quickly to finish second at the Curragh, so he’s very, very hardy – you couldn’t do that with every horse.

“The biggest trouble I have is keeping the weight off him. He’s a great doer, and he still has to do plenty at home, despite the schedule.”

Comparing Poetic Flare to his sire, the trainer added: “Dawn Approach was pretty hardy too and took it well, but he wouldn’t have been the same as Poetic Flare – but I’ve never had a colt of his quality who needed as much work as he does.

Jim Bolger saddles Poetic Flare
Jim Bolger saddles Poetic Flare (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He’s very well, and I think he has a big chance – the bookmakers seem to think so too.

“He goes on any ground too, which is a big advantage. It was good to firm when he won at Newmarket, but personally I’d prefer it if there was no firm in the description as horses last longer that way.”

John and Thady Gosden’s Mostahdaf puts his 100 per cent record on the line, but takes a big step up in class and is the least experienced horse in the field with just three runs.

However, Gosden senior is happy to pitch him in at the deep end following his victory in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown.

“Our fellow has come the slow route – it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t run last year because he had a hiccup,” said the Clarehaven handler.

“This year he won twice on the all-weather and then the Heron. You could argue, and William Buick felt, that Highland Avenue was on the slower part of the track at Sandown near the rail, while we were more middle to left on the better ground.

“Having said that, our horse ran a great race, and I think the St James’s Palace is quite an open affair.

“I think our fellow will be fine on the ground – he’s a lovely horse, and we’ve taken this route before with Without Parole, and King Of Comedy just missed. Palace Pier came from an unobvious direction, too.”

Chindit has two Group-race successes among his four wins, with his only two defeats from six starts coming at Newmarket in the Dewhurst Stakes and 2000 Guineas.

His trainer Richard Hannon told Unibet: “I thought he ran well (when fifth in the 2000 Guineas) – he might even think he won the race, because the race was over the other side of the track away from him.

“We are going to take the noseband off. Dobbsy (Pat Dobbs) reported that he doesn’t really face it. It’s a round mile at Ascot, and we will ride him a little handier.”

Hannon knows what it takes to land this coveted prize, having saddled Barney Roy to score in 2017.

“Barney Roy wasn’t the fastest horse – he was the first one off the bridle in the St James’s Palace Stakes when he won it, but he kept going and ground them down going to the line. If this fella wins, it will probably happen in a similar way,” he added.

“We are very happy with him at home – he deserves a big one. He is a very good horse, and this is hopefully a chance to show it.”

Battleground is one of three runners for Aidan O'Brien
Battleground is one of three runners for Aidan O’Brien (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Aidan O’Brien attempts to improve his record tally of eight victories – with a three-pronged assault of Battleground, Ontario and Wembley.

He said: “We’re hoping the better ground will suit Battleground and Wembley.

“We couldn’t run Battleground at the Curragh (in the Irish 2,000 Guineas) because the ground just got too bad. Wembley ran there, but it had gone too bad for him also.

“Both of them have been in good form since their last runs. If we can get them back to the form they showed at two, they would have a chance.”

Guineas hero Poetic Flare heads 13 for St James’s Palace date

Classic hero Poetic Flare and the unbeaten Mostahdaf are among 13 colts declared for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare landed the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in early May, since when he has finished sixth in the French Guineas and runner-up in the Irish Guineas behind stablemate Mac Swiney.

Mostahdaf has won each of his three starts to date for John and Thady Gosden – completing his hat-trick in the Heron Stakes at Sandown almost four weeks ago.

The Frankel colt beat Charlie Appleby’s Highland Avenue by half a length in that Listed contest and the pair will renew rivalry at Group One level on Tuesday.

Appleby also saddles Irish Guineas sixth La Barrosa, while Jessica Harrington’s Lucky Vega also brings strong Classic form to the table, having finished third at Newmarket and fourth at the Curragh.

With William Buick siding with Highland Avenue, James Doyle is looking forward to partnering La Barrosa in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

He said: “He ran very well in the Craven when second to Master Of The Seas and then went for the Irish Guineas on what was obviously quite testing ground. He travelled into the race really well there, but didn’t quite see it out.

“I think he’ll be seen to much better effect on quicker ground at Ascot, and on his Craven run he’s entitled to go well in what’s obviously a tough race.”

Battleground is one of three runners for Aidan O'Brien
Battleground is one of three runners for Aidan O’Brien (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Aidan O’Brien runs Battleground, Ontario and Wembley, with son Joseph represented by Thunder Moon.

Battleground and Wembley, who both sport first-time tongue ties, plus Thunder Moon all disappointed in the Guineas at Newmarket and Wembley has also since failed to fire in the Irish equivalent.

Bullace (Ralph Beckett), Chindit (Richard Hannon), Maximal (Sir Michael Stoute) and Naamoos (Mark Johnston) complete the line-up.

Monday Musings: The Genius of Jim

It’s Sunday morning in the breakfast room of Glebe House, Coolcullen, Co Carlow, writes Tony Stafford. Ranged around the kitchen table are trainer Jim Bolger, wife Jackie, daughter Una Manning, grand-daughter Clare Manning, who runs the family’s Boherguy stud, and two jockeys. Stable jockey and the Bolgers’ son-in-law Kevin Manning has been a fixture here for decades but a young interloper is an honoured guest.

It’s the morning after Jim Bolger’s historic first victory in the Irish 2,000 Guineas with Mac Swiney, but not just that, he also provided the short-head second, Poetic Flare, more than three lengths clear of the third, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Van Gogh.

The interloper is young winning rider Rory Cleary, who edged out the main man in a thrilling private duel between two colts whose breeding had all been an act of JSB.

The atmosphere around the table is rather tenser, though, than you might have imagined after a long-awaited Classic success. Then Jim began.

“Now do you remember when we talked about the race yesterday morning I told you what I wanted you to do?” said Jim.  “Rory, I told you to make the running as Mac Swiney is our Derby horse so the better stayer and Kevin, you were to join him on the line. Obviously Poetic Flare, as the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas winner is more the miler of them and after failing to follow up in France last Sunday, we needed you to make amends here!”, said Jim.

“How could you get it so wrong? Rory, either you were just a little too forceful on the run to the line – you hit him eight times rather than the permitted seven after all and got that ban - or Kevin, you couldn’t keep Poetic Flare straight in the finish. That result cost us a second Classic winner in one day!” added the trainer.

Then I woke up!

The alchemist of Irish racing had just pulled two rabbits out of the same hat. Has ever a Classic been decided by a dead-heat where every being, human or equine – save Rory Cleary, and even he’d been fashioned in the manner of Aidan O’Brien, Tony McCoy, Willie Mullins and so many more, in the Bolger hothouse – had been so minutely sculpted by one man?

The fact it was not a dead-heat, and make no mistake neither horse deserved to lose, was the only issue that stopped this result from transcending reality into fiction.

To describe Bolger’s unique status during a lifetime as trainer, owner and breeder as the supremo of an Academy doesn’t go anywhere near to covering it. It’s been more like a multi-generational pattern of life based on hard work, honesty and intuitive talent. Forty years ago he talked of an ambition to own all the horses in his stable. Even that apparently over-blown dream has proved to be much less than the surreal actuality.

He not only does – in the name of his wife Jackie - own almost all the horses in the yard, but breeds the majority too. He is the breeder of both the Guineas winners and, much more improbably, their respective sires, Derby winner New Approach (Mac Swiney) and that horse’s son Dawn Approach, sire of Poetic Flame, not to mention Teofilo, Mac Swiney’s broodmare sire.

To breed one unbeaten champion two-year-old in a lifetime would be beyond the dreams of most stud owners. To breed three, all of which won the Dewhurst Stakes to clinch their European juvenile championships and ensure their reputation, is something beyond comprehension.

Much was said of his genius in identifying Galileo as a sire to bank on when he first went to Coolmore following that horse’s epic career under Aidan O’Brien including his impressive Derby win. At the time Derby winners weren’t the most fashionable for stud careers – often being packed off to Japan or indeed ending up as jumps stallions, but Galileo was the exception.

Teofilo emerged from that first crop, running five times – all at seven furlongs – and only twice winning by more than a neck, and even then never by as much as two lengths. In two of the three narrow victories he rallied at the finish to regain the lead, a characteristic of both Saturday’s main protagonists.

He could not have proved more justified in his patronage of Galileo, but even for Jim Bolger, it is impossible to be right all the time.

I remember one day at Arqana’s Saint-Cloud sales seeking a stallion to cover one of Raymond Tooth’s mares asking David O’Loughlin which of Coolmore’s new sires might fit. He kindly pointed me in the direction of another of their Derby winners, the Andre Fabre-trained Pour Moi. He said: “Jim Bolger’s sending a load of mares to him.”

So we sent Laughing Water to Pour Moi and her son, Waterproof, did win a hurdle race on New Year’s Day last year but nothing else. Coolmore meanwhile did not waste much time diverting Pour Moi to their successful NH division despite his producing a Derby winner from his first crop in the shape of Wings Of Eagles.

From a €20k starting point, Pour Moi is now serving his mares having been banished for the last two covering seasons to the Haras de Cercy in France at €3,000 a pop. That’s less than 1% of what Galileo still commands as he approaches the twilight of the greatest stallion career of all time. From his starting point of €30k he will stand in historical terms at least on a par with his own sire Sadler’s Wells and that great horse’s father, the inimitable Northern Dancer.

Just as Bolger identified Galileo’s potential so did John Magnier all those years ago when with the assistance of Robert Sangster’s financial clout and Magnier’s father-in-law Vincent O’Brien’s training skills, they descended on Keeneland in Kentucky to cherry-pick the best of the Northern Dancers.

Again here was a champion and a Derby winner, despite in his case being very small. He missed out on the Triple Crown, finishing only third in the Belmont Stakes following victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but once sent to stud, he produced the English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky, trained by Vincent O’Brien from only his second crop.

That event guaranteed the future success of Northern Dancer, standing at Windfields Farm in Maryland, near Washington DC, initially for $10,000. It also galvanised the O’Brien/Sangster/ Magnier certainty that Northern Dancer should be the sire to concentrate on.  As well as Sadler’s Wells, the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner who did not contest the Derby, but became such a prepotent stallion winning 14 Champion Sire titles, 13 in succession, their shopping trips also brought back The Minstrel, one of the bravest winners of the Epsom Classic in memory.

If Jim Bolger was the biggest star on Irish 2,000 Guineas Day 2021, David O’Loughlin, or rather his wife Treasa, and also the wives of fellow Coolmore senior executives Tom Gaffney and Clem Murphy, won the Group 3 Marble Hill Stakes for two-year-olds with Castle Star, trained by Fozzy Stack.

Magnier has always encouraged his most valued employees to own, breed and above all cash in on the potential of horses and no doubt the trio (and their wives of course) will be hearing plenty of offers for this very stylish winner by Starspangledbanner, who has returned from the ignominy of infertility to a full part in the Coolmore story.

Last week I mentioned Sam Sangster, son of Sadler’s Wells and The Minstrel’s owner among many other Vincent O’Brien stars, for his own exploits with a filly called Beauty Stone. The daughter of Australia, originally a 475,000gns Godolphin buy, but a Sangster acquisition for barely 1% of that when culled from the Charlie Appleby team, made it four wins in a row at Goodwood on Saturday.

Running off 77, 15lb higher than when she started her winning run as recently as February at Kempton, the Tom Ward-trained filly battled on well to defeat 0-90 opposition. Black type could be next for Beauty Stone and no doubt young Mr Sangster will know how to handle the experience and also her future marketing which will involve rather more figures than those he paid for her. It’s all a matter of breeding as Jim Bolger will tell you. Nice kitchen by the way!

Mac Swiney all systems go for the Derby – and Ascot beckons for Poetic Flare

Jim Bolger is looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season has in store for Mac Swiney and Poetic Flare after the stablemates provided him him with a one-two in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Having rounded off his juvenile campaign with a Group One success in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, Mac Swiney finished a slightly disappointing fourth on his reappearance in the in Leopardstown’s Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

However, he raised his game to land Classic glory at the Curragh – coming out on top after a thrilling duel with Poetic Flare, who was running in his third Guineas in the space of four weeks after triumphing at Newmarket and finishing sixth in France last weekend.

Speaking on Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme, Bolger said of Mac Swiney: “As they say in the west of Ireland, I was mighty impressed with him.

“I thought that he stuck to the task really well – any horse wishing to take him on and beat him in the future will have to be up for it because he isn’t going to give in easily.

“I’m very fortunate that the two talented three-year-olds colts I have at the moment both have great temperaments and they can take anything that I throw at them.

“They’re only different in the amount of work that they take. Mac Swiney takes very little work, whereas the other fella takes an awful lot of work, which is why I felt he would stand up to the three Guineas.”

Rory Cleary celebrates on board Mac Swiney
Rory Cleary celebrates on board Mac Swiney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mac Swiney will now bid to emulate his sire New Approach by winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on June 5, for which he is a general 7-1 shot.

“I’m the world’s worst punter, so asking me what price he should be wouldn’t get a very knowledgeable answer,” Bolger added.

“In my mind there isn’t anything ahead of him – the form is there now.”

The Coolcullen handler feels Poetic Flare could have been a triple Guineas winner in different circumstances.

He came close to completing a similar treble in 2007 with Finsceal Beo, who won at Newmarket, was beaten a head in the French 1000 Guineas and won the Irish equivalent.

Bolger said: “The three Guineas came about the year I had Finsceal Beo. In the end it was a few showers of rain in France that cost us the French Guineas, otherwise we would have had all three.

“We realised this (Poetic Flare) was a very talented horse with a lot of durability about him. He’s tough and he could take it.

“Apart from a few things we got wrong in France and then beating him ourselves with a different horse, we could have had the three, so it is possible.

“With a little different circumstance he could be the winner of three Guineas today and that would be fairly unique.

Poetic Flare after winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket
Poetic Flare after winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket (John Walton/PA)

“I said earlier in the week that whatever beat Poetic Flare would win the race. It’s not often I’m right, but I was right on that occasion!”

Asked whether Poetic Flare will run in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next, he added: “I’d say there’s a good chance that he will. It depends how he gets on in the meantime, but I’d say he’s more likely to turn up there than not.

“I’d say he’ll stay at a mile. The only thing that might cause us to divert from that would be the Eclipse at Sandown, but then I have to keep that in mind for Mac Swiney as well.”

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.

Poetic Flare poised for second leg of Guineas treble mission

Poetic Flare goes for the second leg of what could be a remarkable Guineas treble at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

The three-year-old emulated his sire Dawn Approach in winning the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket for trainer Jim Bolger and he turns out just a fortnight later for the French equivalent – the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

Bolger is hoping his exciting colt can double his Classic tally before potentially bidding for a hat-trick in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas next weekend.

“He’s come of Newmarket well,” said the Coolcullen handler.

“I’m hoping to do them all (all three Guineas), all going well.

“The draw (stall four) is what it is and I’ve no worries about the ground.”

Bolger almost completed a similar treble with Finsceal Beo in 2006. The top-class filly won at Newmarket before being beaten a head in Paris, but bounced back to winning ways at the Curragh.

Her narrow defeat in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches is as close as the veteran trainer has come to winning a French Classic – a record he is keen to set straight this weekend.

He added: “She (Finsceal Beo) was second in the Pouliches and I haven’t had many runners (in the French Classics) – she’s the only one, I think.”

St Mark's Basilica winning the Dewhurst at Newmarket under Frankie Dettori
St Mark’s Basilica winning the Dewhurst at Newmarket under Frankie Dettori (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Irish hopes are also carried by St Mark’s Basilica, who bids to provide Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in the race.

The son of Siyouni is making his first appearance since winning the Dewhurst at Newmarket in October.

O’Brien said: “It was always the plan for him to run in the two-year-old race on Arc day (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere), but he didn’t (because of a feed issue) and that is why he ended up going to Newmarket.

“After that it was always the plan then that he would go to France for this race.

“I think he’s a miler, but when Frankie (Dettori) rode him in the Dewhurst he said then he’d get further than the Dewhurst trip, so you’d think he might get a bit further at three.”

The sole British challenger is Archie Watson’s Mehmento.

Following two wide-margin wins on the all-weather Southwell, the Hambleton Racing-owned colt ran an excellent race in defeat on his turf debut when touched off by subsequent 2000 Guineas fifth Chindit in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury.

Cosmo Charlton, Hambleton Racing’s head racing manager, said: “He’s in really good form and Archie is very happy with him, so fingers crossed he runs well.

“It was only his third start at Newbury so hopefully there’s more improvement to come. It’s a big step up again. You’ve got the 2000 Guineas winner in there and Aidan O’Brien’s Dewhurst winner, so those two are going to be hard to beat.

“If we can be in the mix to make the frame we’ll be absolutely delighted.”

The home team is led by Frederic Rossi’s Sealiway, who was a runaway winner of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and is expected to improve from his comeback second in the Prix de Fontainebleau four weeks ago.

“Sealiway is getting stronger. His last work was very satisfactory. The rain won’t bother him. I hope the ground will be on the soft side,” said Rossi.

“I don’t think that there is one particular standout horse. He is here to run well, and this with the help of Christophe Soumillon.”

Andre Fabre is seeking a third consecutive Poulains, after Persian King and Victor Ludorum.

He relies on Parchemin, who was unbeaten in two juvenile starts but only fifth on his reappearance in the Fontainebleau.

Lisa-Jane Graffard of Godolphin told www.godolphin.com: “We hoped that Parchemin would have run slightly better in the Prix de Fontainebleau but he ran well enough, all things considered. The ground was possibly a bit quick that day but the first two home look very strong contenders here again.

“He is a really lovely horse with a great temperament and a real standout physically. We have seen horses turn around the form between the trial and the Classic itself, and we are optimistic that Parchemin can improve on his seasonal return.”

Newmarket winners head French Guineas fields

Poetic Flare and Mother Earth are set to bid for Classic doubles in their respective French Guineas assignments at ParisLongchamp this weekend.

Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare, a tenacious winner of this month’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, is one of 12 set to do battle on Sunday following final declarations.

Aidan O’Brien’s Newmarket heroine Mother Earth is one of a field of 14 for the French 1000 Guineas on the same card.

Poetic Flare forms part of a twin Irish challenge in the 2000 Guineas, alongside O’Brien’s Dewhurst winner St Mark’s Basilica, while Lambourn trainer Archie Watson sends his Greenham Stakes runner-up Mehmento to take on the home contingent.

Frederic Rossi’s Sealiway, winner of the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at the same course last October, will carry many of France’s hopes – and Andre Fabre, who has won the last two editions of this colts’ Classic, is represented by Parchemin.

Mother Earth will be joined in the 1000 Guineas by a fellow Irish filly in Ken Condon’s Miss Amulet – making her seasonal reappearance after a successful two-year-old campaign, which included Lowther Stakes victory at York and and an admirable third at the Breeders’ Cup.

Ralph Beckett flies the flag for Britain with his Listed and Group Three winner Lullaby Moon – also making her first start of the season – while Philomene, unbeaten in two starts for Fabre, and Francis-Henri Graffard’s Sweet Lady lead home hopes.