Daring decision reaps rich dividend

It would have to be described as one of Jim Bolger’s finest hours. That performance by his Dawn Approach, in the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, was quite extraordinary.

Daring decision reaps rich dividend

The horse appeared to have literally blown a gasket in the Epsom Derby and it would have been no great surprise if he disappeared for many months, or, indeed, was never again seen on a racecourse.

But Bolger, throughout a long and distinguished career, has always been a maverick and he shocked the entire racing world by running Dawn Approach back just 17 days after the nightmare of Epsom.

Most believed he would give Dawn Approach plenty of time, in an effort to deal with the possibility of major psychological damage.

To ask him to run again so quickly seemed to be an act of madness and I doubt there is another top-class trainer in these islands who would have done so.

But Bolger is just different and his daring decision reaped a handsome dividend and left many of us stunned at its audacity.

The fact that Dawn Approach again took a keen hold and was still able to win only added to the drama.

Bolger has had a magnificent career - he actually seems to be getting better as he gets older - but you’d imagine this will be the day he’ll be remembered for above all.

The strength of Dawn Approach in the betting was almost as amazing. Personally, I wasn’t willing to risk a euro on him, on the basis it would have been no surprise at all should he have bombed out for a second time.

But he was a massive order and to go off a tight 5-4 shot, in a contest as hot as that, meant huge money was invested on him.

In contrast, Aidan O’Brien will not look back on this St James’ Palace with any great pleasure.

His Magician looked a real star in the making when running away with the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh and the form could hardly have worked out any better, with the second ad third respectively, Gale Force Ten and Trading Leather, both winning in the meantime.

But Magican went to the St James’ Palace under a cloud and duly ran way below par to trail in last. If you backed him then you had to feel you were never going to collect!

Please let’s hear no more about Camelot being the second coming.

He is what he is: a talented enough horse, but no more.

He won a modest 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and a very poor Epsom Derby, but has otherwise been found out on several occasions.

The latest was at Royal Ascot on Wednesday, when well beaten behind Al Kazeem in the Prince Of Wales’ Stakes.

Let that be the end of it now and, who knows, he might well develop into one of the great stallions.

I know literally everyone fawns over Clare Balding and it is almost frighteningly popular, especially among fellow members of the media, to be onside when it comes to that lady.

Here’s one, however, who is no great fan and, quite frankly, there are times when she drives me daft.

At Ascot on Tuesday, she was out of traps like a flash, after Joseph O’Brien had guided Declaration Of War to victory in the Queen Anne Stakes.

O’Brien made his challenge between horses and they had barely gone by the post before she declared that he had “barged’’ his way through.

The head-on quickly revealed he had done nothing of the sort and had gone for a gap that was there and bounded through it like a flash. Good man Joseph.

Jim McGrath immediately said he hadn’t engaged in any barging and did I detect a hint of irritation in his voice? Good man, Jim.

The early announcement by Aidan O’Brien, that Epsom Derby hero, Ruler Of The World, is his one certain challenger for next weekend’s Irish Derby was more than welcome.

O’Brien indicated other targets for the likes of Battle Of Marengo and Mars, at Ascot this week, and already we know very much what the shape of the Derby is going to be. O’Brien and team Ballydoyle are to be applauded for their action.

If Epsom second and third, Libertarian and Galileo Rock respectively, as well as Trading Leather and Sugar Boy all run, then this promises be one of the better renewals.

Aidan has won the Irish Derby ten times in 16 years, including the last seven runnings of the race.

But even he must be tired at this stage of those post-race press conferences, which have long shaped like groundhog day.

If, for instance, Trading Leather was to win, it might be a lot livelier than usual, with the inimitable Jim Bolger sitting at the top table. Nothing personal, Aidan, but a change is as good as a rest!

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