Bolger Derby hope takes French prize
At the end of a season that saw him bag two juvenile Group One triumphs with next year's 2,000 Guineas favourite Dawn Approach, Jim Bolger produced a remarkable training feat to plunder yesterday's Criterium International at Saint-Cloud with Loch Garman (11/2).
Yet another two-year-old that the Coolcullen maestro owns and bred himself, the son of Teofilo looks a live Derby propects after coming with a late surge under Kevin Manning to capture the French Group One, just eight days after making a successful racecourse debut at Navan.
The victory marks Bolger's first in the prestigious one-mile contest, which had gone to Ballydoyle on three occasions since 2006.
While it was one of the weaker top-level races of its type, as evidenced by Ralph Beckett's twice-raced maiden Anna's Pearl filling the runner-up berth, Loch Garman was subsequently cut from 33/1 to 20/1 to run out as winner at next year's Epsom Derby.
There is a possibility of further foreign Group One spoils on the opening salvo of the two-day Breeders' Cup card at Santa Anita tonight, with Aidan O'Brien saddling Up in the Filly & Mare Turf, and Infanta Branca in the equivalent juvenile contest. Both horses will be ridden by Ryan Moore and can be backed at double-figure odds to prevail.
The Richard Hannon-trained Sky Lantern, last seen recording an emphatic Moyglare Stud Stakes triumph at the Curragh in September, is the 5/2 favourite to take the two-year-old race under Britain's champion jockey-elect Richard Hughes.
In the Grade Two Marathon, Jamie Spencer takes the reins on the first-time visored Fame And Glory (9/2) for O'Brien, with Pat Smullen aboard Dermot Weld's Moyglare Stud-owned Sense Of Purpose (10/1).
Weld, Smullen and Moyglare are also represented by the lightly-raced Speaking Of Which in the Grade Two Twilight Derby.
Closer to home, Quito De La Roque and Sizing Europe, first and second in last year's JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal, are among a final field of nine for this year's renewal of the three-mile Grade One tomorrow.
Daryl Jacob will ride Kauto Star's half-brother Kauto Stone in the same race for Paul Nicholls, with First Lieutenant, Joncol, Realt Dubh and Bob Lingo also providing the opposition.
Of the two Gigginstown horses, Davy Russell has opted for the Colm Murphy-trained Quito De La Roque over First Lieutenant.