Tag Archives: Jim Bolger

The Japan Cup (Grade 1)

Trading Leather running third to The Fugue and Al Kazeem in the 2013 Irish Champion Stakes

Trading Leather running third to The Fugue and Al Kazeem in the 2013 Irish Champion Stakes

The last foreign trained winner of the Japan Cup was Luca Cumani’s Alkaased in 2005.

The last, and only, Irish trained winner was Frank Dunne’s Stanerra back in 1983. This year Jim Bolger has sent Trading Leather to bridge the 31 year gap.

Trading Leather’s last win was the Irish Derby last year. He hasn’t seen the winners enclosure since notching up a seven race losing sequence in the process. That and the draw position of 18 (widest of all) are the negatives that the Godolphin owned colt has to overcome.

Let’s concentrate on the positives.

Second to Novellist in the King George after the Irish Derby success, second to Declaration Of War in the International at York next time out and in his last run as a three old, third to the Fugue in the Irish Champion Stakes.

That’s defeat at the hands of three of the best in Europe over the last decade. Novellist was shudderingly brilliant that day at Ascot and would have gone off favourite for the Arc had injury not curtailed his career. Declaration Of War fought out that marvellous battle up the Santa Anita home straight in the Breeders Cup Classic when beaten a nose and a head by Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge. The Fugue followed up the Irish Champion Stakes in spectacular style when winning at Royal Ascot in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes this year.

As a four year old the son of Telfilo returned to the racecourse at Group 2 level in May when contesting the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket. He was turned over as an odds on shot by Gospel Choir and Pether’s Moon. The winner, Gospel Choir only had one more run, two weeks later when beating Tac De Boistron in the Yorkshire Cup, again a Group 2. Tac De Boistron then didn’t run until October when he won the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak (French St Leger) in October.

Naturally Trading Leather’s trainer Jim Bolger only pitched him at the highest level since.

Next time out he ran second in the Coral Eclipse to Mukhadram. He then ran fifth to Taghrooda in the King George and third to the Grey Gatsby in this years Irish Champion Stakes. You could well argue this form isn’t as strong as last year’s but consider that last time out only Australia and The Grey Gatsby were ahead of him. When viewed in the context of this challenge that’s still very strong form.

Of course he’ll have to beat the home team headed by Gentildonna (going for a never done before, third straight victory) in the race, Just A Way and Harp Star plus Germany’s Ivanhowe.

Gentildonna will renew her partnership with Ryan Moore who won on her at Meydan in March beating Cirrus Des Aigles in the Sheema Classic. She’s run twice since beaten both times though second last time in a prep for this could well mean she’s back to her best.

Just A Way, Harp Star and Ivanhowe all ran in the Arc. Neither Japanese horses got in a blow however it must be remembered Just A Way was the most impressive winner of the Dubai Duty Free in March while Harp Star who loves to come from behind was given a mammoth task by her jockey in the Arc and if ridden closer to the pace can be seen at her best. Ivanhowe was way down the field in Paris did beat Sea The Moon in a G1 in the summer and after the Arc won another in Munich at the start of the month.

It’s a big ask to travel halfway across the world to win Japan’s major all age race.

Can he do it?

When you consider the opposition, top class proven international performers and then the draw, virtually in the carpark, you’d be inclined to think no.

Then you think Gentildonna won from stall 15 in 2012 so maybe the draw isn’t a killer. Then you wonder about the current form of the home team, say to yourself that if Trading Leather ran in this year’s Arc would he have done better than Harp Star and Just A Way, probably. Then factor in that Gentildonna has lost those last two runs.

Then consider that Trading Leather is running over his best trip, on his favoured ground, which he hasn’t encountered this year and consider the shrewdness of his trainer then the picture looks different.

You would have to conclude that Trading Leather has a real good chance of belying his 20/1 odds offered at the moment. If you are going to back him best not to be tempted to take that price, instead put PMU on your docket thereby taking the local odds as it’s hardly lightly the Tokyo public will steam into him and you just might end up with a more juicy return than that offered at the moment.

Recommendation: Trading Leather EW (PMU Price)




The Champion Stakes (Group 1)

Aidan will be in action at Ascot for Champions Day

Aidan will be in action at Ascot for Champions Day

Massive day’s racing at Ascot with the 3rd instalment of Champions Day.

There’s been some criticism of staging Britain’s richest days racing so late in the season but it does bring the show down in a massive crescendo. The downside is the ground is always more likely to have turned at this time of the year. Soft even heavy may be the description come post time tomorrow.

The feature is the Champions Stakes over 10f. We’ve also got the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes over a mile, the Fillies and Mares Champion Stakes over 10f with all three carrying Group 1 status . The undercard features the G3 Champions Long Distance Cup and the G2 Champions Sprint Stakes.

All in all a day to rival Paris two weeks ago.

The Long Distance Cup

In the Cup The Queens Estimate will of course be all the rage. We haven’t seen her since the Gold Cup where she brought the house down with her emotional victory over Willie Mullins Melbourne Cup bound Simenon. She’ll have to go from G/F to handling soft to win this. There’s also a suspicion this is a better field than in June with the likes of Harris Tweed, Ahzeemah, Eye Of The Storm and Royal Diamond in the mix. It’s been won by the Irish the last two years and Dermot Weld who won with Rite Of Passage last year could surprise again with Pale Mimosa. His unexposed 4 year old last year won a maiden at Galway on heavy ground by 15L.

Recommendation : Pale Mimosa 16/1 EW

The Sprint

Another strong Irish challenge in the Sprint with Balmont Mast, Cape Of Approval, Slade Power, Viztoria and Maarek. The latter is defending the title and showed himself in rattling good form when slicing through the field to win the Abbaye in Paris two weeks ago. That was over 5f and should have him spot on for this 6f trip. However we’ll give Eddie Lynam’s Viztoria another chance stepping back from 7 f where she did well to be only 5 L behind Moonlight Cloud in Prix de La Floret.

Recommendation : Viztoria 13/2 win

The Fillies And Mares

The Fillies and Mares is an open contest. The market rates the nine runner field between 4/1 and 16/1. Again recent Paris form looks hot. Dalkala won the Prix De L’Opera getting her nose in front of Tasaday on the line. Talent the Oaks winner ran well in the St Leger while Oaks third The Lark won the Park Hill where Seal Of Approval clipped heels and fell at the Doncaster meeting. Belle De Crecy got the better of Hot Snap at the Curragh in the Blansford while Waila was a 10L winner of a Newmarket Listed race in July. Mike De Kock’s Igugu was a superstar at home in South Africa but hasn’t translated that at Meyden or Sha Tin at the beginning of the year. In prep for this she ran second in a listed race three weeks ago suggesting her form is there to come back. The German raider Nymphea is attractive. A Group 1 winner in the Preiss Von Berlin where she beat Temida 3 L who previously was a G1 winner herself in the Preis Von Bayern.

Recommendation : Nymphea 12/1 EW

The Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes

Dawn Approach has been given a rest since the Jacques Le Marois where he trailed in 8L behind Moonlight Cloud. He’d come out of a hard race with Toronado in the Sussex Stakes and can be forgiven the run. Maxios saw off Olympic Glory in the Prix Du Moulin by 5 L who’d run an absolute cracker to be a short head behind Moonlight Cloud in the Jacques Le Marois. Kingsbarns was one of the ante post favourites for the Guineas through the winter on the back of his Racing Post victory. He was pulled up in the Irish Champion Stakes but the fact that Aidan puts him in is significant. The Godolphin Mile winner Soft Falling Rain can’t be ruled out but he’s never encountered ground like this before.

Recommendation : Kingsbarns 16/1 EW

The Champion Stakes

The main dish sees a rejuvenated Cirrus Des Aigles come back to go one better than his second to Frankel last year to add to his win in 2011. We doubted him through a poor campaign but his trainer Corine Barande-Barbe kept telling us to be patient, that he was on the way back and in the Prix Dollar he put in a performance to vindicate her view. Farhh makes a welcome return from injury. Last seen when winning  the Lockinge in May it will be a wonderful training feat to bookend the season with two Group 1’s. His stable companion Hunter’s Light has some form on the ground having won in heavy in Italy last year as does Morandi who was also was winner at top level on a heavy surface as a two year old.  The Derby winner Ruler Of The World hit a pocket in the Arc and did well to finish seventh considering the run wasn’t clean. He looked sharp the previous run before that in the Prix Neil when the bob of a head separated him from Kizuna. Like Viztoria he’s worth another chance.

Recommendation : Ruler Of The World 8/1 EW

The Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

Rain. Will it? Won’t it?

If it does how deep will it get into the Leopardstown ground that is now good to firm.

Enough to put some juice in or enough to turn it good to soft?

Roger Charlton put the defeat of Al Kazeem at York in the International down to the fast ground that day and a little bit of freshness from the break since the Eclipse. He will be praying the forecast rain will be heavier than the 10mm predicted. While 10mm will be enough to put some juice in it won’t be enough to put cut in it. Al Kazeem would be best suited to cut.

He’s the only one of the principles who want to see the rain fall. Declaration Of War proved at York the quicker it is the better for him. The same applies to Trading Leather who just fell short in the International. Both loved hearing their feet rattle across the Knavesmire and in the end the 1 3/4 L that separated them at the line might have had more to do with how the race panned out than the ability of the animal.

Kevin Manning took it on and set the pace at York. He had hoped to take the sting out of the others especially the kick of Toranado but in the end there was no need to worry about that as Toranado was already a spent force after two furlongs. The pace was dream like for Joseph O’Brien who just had to sit off it and press the button in time to let his mount time to get into top gear to power to the line. He said in his post race interview it was his fault he got beat in the Eclipse for not giving Declaration Of War the time to wind up.

The Fugue also loved the ground at York in the Oaks. She powered home on the fast proving herself far superior to her own sex and also put the run in the Eclipse well behind her. The drop in trip to 10 f from 12 f against the boys is the concern.

Two Dewhurst winner’s make the line up.

Aidan O’Brien’s has decided to let Kingsbarns take his chance though surely it’ll be some feat to come out and win this on his seasonal debut. He met a setback before the Guineas and  has been given time to recuperate. He was a good winner of the Dewhurst last year on soft ground 17 days after winning his maiden at Navan on a similar surface. If the rain does come he’ll be backed lower than 6/1 on offer now.

Parish Hall when last seen at the Curragh in May

Parish Hall when last seen at the Curragh in May

Jim Bolger’s 2011 winner Parish Hall, second string here, missed the entire campaign last year through injury and though he made a pleasing enough return at the Curragh in April he then ran below expectations in a Group 3 behind Camelot in May. Jim reported him well earlier this week describing him as a horse who would prefer quick conditions. While reticent to say he couldn’t win he was more pointing to the chances of Trading Leather whom he believed would have a better chance if the predicted easier conditions materialise.

Dermot Weld will be loving the news that the rain’s coming. His mare Princess Highway hasn’t sparkled since beating the Fugue 6 L at Royal Ascot last year in the Ribblesdale. Like Al Kazeem she’ll like some cut but form this year has been disappointing. She was beaten 2 1/2 L in the Blue Wind at Naas in May by Euphrasia when that filly sprung a 33/1 surprise (at 100/1 this time she’ll have to spring a threefold one here). At  the Curragh last time in the Pretty Polly she couldn’t handle the firm and was beaten 7 L by Ambivalent. Any deluge will increase her chances.

The form of the Eclipse and International suggests there is little between Declaration OF War, Al Kazeem and Trading Leather. The factor which will influence most is the ground. Kingbarns and Parish Hall are on the comeback mission but were both high quality two year olds. The fillies The Fugue and Princess Highway are more 12 f than 10 f horses.

It’ll come down to the ground and if it’s 10mm of rain then Trading Leather will cope better than the War and both are just that tiny bit classier than Al Kazeem.

Recommenation : Trading Leather 6/1 win