Thursday 22 February 2018

Leather can give timely lift to Bolger after Derby woes


Thomas Kelly

JIM BOLGER might have suffered double Derby disappointment last weekend, but being very much from the 'show must go on' school the Coolcullen maestro looks sure to see his otherwise superb season continue at the Curragh tomorrow.

Bolger sends out yet another of his smart three-year-old brigade in Trading Leather, which, despite the presence of Aidan O'Brien's Kentucky Derby seventh Lines Of Battle, is likely to go off favourite in the featured Trim Silver Stakes over 10 furlongs.

Winner of a Group Three at Newmarket last October, Trading Leather has rock-solid form credentials.

On his seasonal debut, he finished runner-up in the Dante to Libertarian which, of course, went on to finish second to Ruler Of The World in last Saturday's Epsom Derby and the Bolger colt ran just as well when third to Magician in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Lines Of Battle will attract plenty followers, but it's hard to know if he has recovered fully from his admirable exertions in Kentucky, not to mention his arduous journey across the Atlantic, and John Oxx's promising Zand could prove Trading Leather's biggest danger.

With the sun continuing to blaze down, conditions are sure to be fast at headquarters and that normally points punters in the direction of O'Brien's horses which generally like to hear their hooves rattle.

Bearing that in mind, his choicely-bred Dove Mountain will be hard to beat in the opening juvenile maiden provided the son of Danehill Dancer doesn't let his inexperience get the better of him.

Were Joseph O'Brien's mount to betray signs of greenness, Bolger's twice-raced Freedom Square is the obvious alternative.

Illustrate is not an obvious candidate for the O'Briens in the fillies' maiden, but her two outings to date were run on soft ground and the daughter of Oasis Dream can show marked improvement on this better surface aided by the fitting of a hood for the first time.

The father and son combination can also strike with Waver in the closing maiden.

The Ballydoyle supremo's daughter, Ana, is aboard his Beach Of Falesa in the fillies' handicap over 12 furlongs, but this is a competitive renewal and preference goes to Bolger's Maggie Dalton, which appears to have more scope for improvement than the in-form Valbucca or Oxx's Kerisa.

The fare on today's card at Navan is considerably more modest and the big fields make it even more complicated for punters.

The conditions race for three-year-olds over a mile looks a bit more straight-forward, with just four runners.

Ballydoyle is represented by Forester, which must overcome a 419-day absence from the track and preference is given to the beautifully-bred Stepwise.

John Oxx's inmate scored impressively on his seasonal debut over this course and distance three weeks ago and the son of Azamour is well regarded by his astute trainer.

The likely favourite looks sure to appreciate the fast ground and, with Oxx's yard gradually finding its form, Stepwise gets the nap vote.

The handicaps should be treated with caution, but fledgling trainer Johnny Murtagh is taken to make another visit to the winner's enclosure with Elastormer in the Boylesports Handicap over five furlongs.

Irish Independent

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