Monday 21 October 2019

Bolger in bullish Derby mood

Richard Forristal

ON a day that saw considerable clarity emerge as to exactly which horses will lead the charge to thwart Dawn Approach's bid for Derby glory tomorrow week, Jim Bolger quipped he wouldn't lose "any sleep over who turns up" at Epsom.

After Telescope's disappointing piece of work in public at Lingfield, Michael Stoute announced at an Epsom morning PR event dubbed 'Breakfast with the Stars' that his highly-regarded three-year-old would not contest the Investec-sponsored Classic on June 1.

Aidan O'Brien then narrowed down plans for his array of smart colts by confirming that Battle Of Marengo and Mars would spearhead his Derby team, adding that his son Joseph is "short enough odds" to ride Battle Of Marengo.

It is Dawn Approach's contracting odds that are most significant, though, as the last of the evens that was available about Bolger's stunning 2,000 Guineas winner have now disappeared.

As low as 8/11, the son of New Approach was a general 10/11 ante-post market leader to emulate Camelot and become just the second odds-on winner of the premier Classic since Shergar in 1981.

"With regards to the competition, I wish them all well – I respect every one of them," Bolger said, before adding: "I would not be losing any sleep over who turns up."

The 71-year-old's unmistakable laconic wit has coloured the Derby run-up, though he did row back slightly on his assertion at York last week that all the best trials had taken place at his Coolcullen base.

Still, while conceding that Dawn Approach's pedigree raised some stamina concerns for the 12-furlong Group One, he sounded refreshingly bullish that his unbeaten star can add to his growing legacy come Epsom.

"He has come out of the Guineas very well," said Bolger (left) of the horse that he owns in partnership with Godolphin.

"His performance in the Guineas was spectacular and I think that is recognised by everybody. He has been thriving ever since. He is still costing me – I would say he is eating more than he was before the Guineas."

Meanwhile, in the wake of the steroid controversy that has tarnished the good name of the Godolphin brand, Sheikh Mohammed has moved to criminalise the use of performance-enhancing drugs in all horse sports across the UAE.

Given that steroids are currently permitted in the UAE once clear of a horse's system on race-day – not to mention endurance racing's ambiguous doping record in the Far East – it is an unequivocal response to the scandal by the Dubai ruler.

Irish Independent

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