Bolger's parish to lift guineas
WHEN asked about the weather, the 19th century English author and poet John Ruskin said that "sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
We are well used to varied atmospheric conditions here in Ireland, but the few days of sunshine this week have really lifted the spirits of the nation -- and I always find that people are in better form when the ball of fire in the sky is burning brightly.
The Curragh can be a glorious place to be on a nice day and with dry conditions in Kildare this week, the ground is expected to be good. That should suit Jim Bolger's Parish Hall, which is generally available at 7/2 for today's Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas (3.15).
A son of Teofilo, he won the Dewhurst as a Juvenile last time back in October and despite the fact that this will be his first race of the season, the vibes coming out of Currabeg are all good.
Bookmakers are reporting that a number of reasonable-sized wagers have been accepted on the colt for next week's Derby too and he now finds only three ahead of him in the betting for Britain's richest race.
Another interesting contender is the French-trained Hermival. His form in the 2,000 Guineas is arguably the best on offer here and I know connections expect a big season this summer.
Trainer Mikel Delzangles has plenty of options and a race such as the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot might be the way to go.
Across the water at Goodwood, Jet Away makes appeal in the Listed 32Red Festival Stakes (2.45). With five wins from 12, he's paid his way for connections, although it must be noted that he hasn't yet made his mark at Listed level or above.
On the plus side, he's quite versatile and races consistently well no matter how firm or soft the ground turns up. If I can get 5/2 or higher, I'll have a decent size wedge on this one.
Shortly afterwards at Haydock, Bated Breath is the one to side with in the Group Two betfred.com Temple Stakes (3.0).
Critics may point to the fact he flopped at York the only time he tried five furlongs, but he had a poor draw on that occasion, so his performance can be excused.
Only Dream Ahead could better him in the July Cup at Newmarket and in the Sprint Cup here last term and, if George Baker gets him out in front early on, he could take all the beating.
I tipped up Switzerland for a valuable sprint at Newmarket last month, but as soon as he left the stalls, it became clear that something was amiss and he finished up last.
He's since bounced back to form and ran a good one when third in a reasonably good handicap at Chester, so a chance is taken again on the three-year-old at 20/1 in the Betfred Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock (2.30). His best form is on softer ground, so today's good to firm is a bit of an unknown, but he's sure to stay and looks overpriced.
2.30 Haydock: Switzerland (e/w)
2.45 Goodwood: Jet Away
3.0 Haydock: Bated Breath
3.10 York: Cavalryman
3.15 Curragh: Parish Hall