Wednesday 24 January 2018

Leather's hectic schedule to take in Champion Stakes

Trainer Jim Bolger and Jockey Kevin Manning after Trading Leather won The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
Trainer Jim Bolger and Jockey Kevin Manning after Trading Leather won The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

Thomas Kelly

Jim Bolger still plans to run Trading Leather in September's Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes, even though his Irish Derby hero is also set to run at Ascot and York.

Bolger's impressive Curragh winner is set to take his chance in Saturday's King George at Ascot and go back across the Irish Sea next month for York's Juddmonte International.

"The plan for Trading Leather is for him to run in the Irish Champion Stakes. He'll go for the King George, then the Juddmonte and then back to Leopardstown," said Bolger at the race's launch at the Ritz Carlton in Powerscourt.

Predictably, Aidan O'Brien has a strong hand in the Leopardstown showpiece as he seeks an eighth success in the Group One contest.

The Ballydoyle supremo's entries include Ruler Of The World and Darwin, which was an impressive winner of the Minstrel Stakes last Sunday.

"We will be supporting the race for sure. Darwin was impressive when he won at the weekend and he is still in the mix, as are Declaration Of War and Kingsbarns," O'Brien explained.

Cirrus Des Aigles is favourite for the King George, but he too is a possible for Leopardstown, according to his trainer Corine Barande-Barbe: "The horse runs on Saturday, so we'll have to see how that goes. However, it remains a possibility as he has no other option in September."

Al Kazeem is on a break after chalking up a hat-trick of Group One successes already this season and he may also go to Leopardstown. "He is currently on a break, but we are considering the Irish Champion Stakes for Al Kazeem," said trainer Roger Charlton.

Marco Botti has already confirmed Dubai World Cup third Planteur a definite starter. Last year's renewal was won by the recently-retired Snow Fairy and it was announced her owner Cristina Patino is to donate a statue of the mare to Leopardstown to acknowledge her course record in the race.

The other Group One on the same card, the Coolmore Fusaichi Matron Stakes, could see a renewal of the rivalry between Elusive Kate and Sky Lantern. The pair, which fought out a controversial finish to Newmarket's Falmouth Stakes, are among 37 entries for the one-mile contest which was won last year by Chachamaidee after the first past the post, Duntle, was disqualified.

Elusive Kate narrowly got the better of the Richard Hannon-trained 1,000 Guineas winner in the race and kept the prize, despite drifting to the far side of the track in the closing stages.

Duntle could try to put the record straight for David Wachman's team, while Mikel Delzangles has two good contenders in French 1000 Guineas victor Flotilla and What A Name.

Others in a highly-quality entry include Michael Stoute's Dank, Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Just The Judge, Viztoria, Sajjhaa and Kenhope.

Meanwhile, O'Brien's injured colt St Nicholas Abbey was reported to have had "a comfortable night" ahead of planned surgery on a fractured pastern.

With his racing career now over, owners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith are hopeful their vets can save him for a stud career.

Coolmore tweeted: "St Nicholas Abbey has had a comfortable night at Fethard Equine Hospital. He undergoes surgery this morning and today will be critical for him."

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