Monday 20 November 2017

Bolger: Whelan the one when Manning retires

Jockey Ronan Whelan. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Jockey Ronan Whelan. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Jim Bolger has revealed that he intends to make Ronan Whelan his stable jockey when the veteran Kevin Manning calls it a day.

Champion apprentice in 2012 with 41 winners, Whelan is enjoying his best season since, but he has had to be patient and recently admitted he was not sure what Bolger had in mind in terms of Manning's successor.

However, Bolger has put an end to speculation and has full belief in Whelan's ability to make it as the main man at one of the biggest yards in the country. Whelan (23) has been at Bolger's Coolcullen stables since 2008.

The legendary trainer said: "We're all hoping Ronan (will be my next No 1). He has never done anything wrong by me and he is a very promising young jockey.

"Maybe he needs a little more experience but he will get that as we go along; he is level-headed and knows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. He is good enough and won't have any problems with pressure on big days.

"He was always a proper young man and when he came to me he could ride. I knew from day one that he would make the grade. He is a natural on a horse, kind of an old head on young shoulders. His temperament is a big help."

A native of Monasterevin, Whelan rode his first Royal Ascot winner this season when Jennies Jewel made all the running in the two-and-a-half-mile Ascot Stakes, holding on by a neck. He partnered the Bolger-trained Stellar Mass to finish third in the Irish Derby in June at 33/1.

Whelan said: "I am very flattered to hear this - that my work has not gone unnoticed - and it gives me initiative to work even harder for him. I appreciate everything he has done for me and hopefully the best days are to come."

Manning (49) is the senior rider in the Irish weighing room since Kieren Fallon retired. He has been stable jockey to his father-in-law, since Christy Roche left in 1993.

Bolger added: "Kevin has the job as long as he wants and hopefully Ronan will then be available."

It was confirmed yesterday that The Gurkha, perhaps the best miler of his generation, will be retired. A winner of the French Guineas on just his third start, his career reached a premature conclusion with victory in the Sussex Stakes in July less than four months after he had first seen a racecourse.

Aidan O'Brien, who trained The Gurkha, said: "From day one he showed he was top-class. He was always a beautiful mover and physically he was a great shape. He'll make a very good stallion.

"Sue Magnier named him early as a two-year-old and gave him a significant name but it just so happened that he did not see the track at two and he is a big loss to us now too."

Last year's Irish Derby winner, Jack Hobbs, is to return in the Qipco Champion Stakes on October 15.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport