JUST a few weeks into the 2013 Flat season and Jim Bolger has already sent out 13 winners from just 39 runners which gives him a strike rate of 33 per cent.
For ante-post backers of Dawn Approach in the 2000 Guineas, you couldn't have a more positive sign, the horses are flying and the trainer appears to restore all of the qualities that have been so evident in recent seasons.
Bolger will be represented in this weekend's Classic trials at Leopardstown on Sunday and those in opposition will have to be fearful of the man who seems to have a strong string to go to war with.
Yesterday afternoon, Bolger's unbeaten three-year-old Dawn Approach was one of 17 second entries for the Investec Derby at Epsom, a move that cost owners Godolphin £8,000 (€9,300) and they were among a record number who opted to enter at this stage.
The second entry stage for Epsom gives connections who didn't enter at the yearling stage the opportunity to enter in the June 1 highlight.
As it stands, a total of 125 colts are entered and for any horse still not in the race, the final opportunity is the supplementary stage on May 27. It will cost the owner £75,000 (€87,000), although the winner of the Derby Trial at Epsom in April will get a wild card entry if not already one of the 125 in the race.
With Ladbrokes, Dawn Approach can be backed as big as 12/1 for the Epsom Derby to emulate his sire New Approach, who won the race in 2008, and he is a general 6/4 best priced for the 2000 Guineas.
Owned by Godolphin, Dawn Approach will be breaking the mould by carrying the famous blue colours and being trained in Ireland, he was one of three second entries for the Derby belonging to them, as Secret Number and Steeler were also entered.
The form of the Bolger horses is frightening at the moment and it would be a surprise to see him leave Leopardstown on Sunday without adding to his tally for the season so far. Where Dawn Approach will begin this season remains to be revealed.
From an Irish perspective, John Oxx gave impressive Leopardstown maiden winner Zand an entry at yesterday's latest stage. Oxx has had very few runners so far this season, but the Aga Khan-owned three-year-old was an impressive winner last October and improved readily on his debut at the Curragh, over a mile, when second to highly regarded Pearl Music.
Speaking this week, Oxx said that the colt had "wintered well", but a setback ruled him out of beginning his campaign in Sunday's Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown. Instead the trainer is looking towards the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial with the son of Zamindar.
The other Irish-trained second entry for the race was First Cornerstone, who won twice for trainer Andy Oliver last season and ended the campaign by finishing fourth behind Kingsbarn in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.
Oliver explained yesterday: "First Cornerstone is in the Investec Derby, the Prix du Jockey Club and the Irish Derby. The idea would be to start him off in a Derby trial and then we will pick out which one to go for."
On bare form, he looks as if he deserves an entry in the Investec Derby. Everything about him suggests that he will stay the trip and his current owners Team Valor said they want to aim at one of the Derby races.
Aidan O'Brien's Kingsbarn is the current ante-post favourite for the Epsom Derby.