When you are engrossed in one train of thought, it is amazing how you fail to act on what you hear about something else. Last Thursday week, whilst I enjoyed a socially distanced coffee before racing at Punchestown with two esteemed racing hacks, the conversation turned to the then upcoming 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Both had views or quotes from two of the leading trainers involved, and as one of the party divulged what Aidan O’Brien thought of his three runners, the other enlightened us as to what Jim Bolger was expecting of his sole runner.
Aidan was unsure which of his was the best. He was happy with them all, but as had transpired throughout their two-year-old campaigns, one horse did not tower over the others. The obvious question ‘were any of them good enough?’ was probably asked.
Still, Aidan being a racehorse trainer, and therefore an eternal optimist, the answer would have been left very general and made in a way that any result would not surprise him, which is the way my colleague relayed the conversation.
Much to my disappointment, there was no golden nugget of info leaking its way out of Ballydoyle because, in all likelihood, there just was not one to spread.
The statement issued to my other colleague was so bold from Jim Bolger that I let it float over my head, passed what I deemed a funny comment and proceeded to finish my coffee.
Jim Bolger had suggested he would win the Guineas, but he just had to decide with which horse. I often mix up confidence and arrogance, and in this instance, I made that same mistake again.
Poetic Flare or Mac Swiney had an each-way chance. One was two from three as a two-year-old, but his defeat came in the Dewhurst and the other was three from six. Ok, Mac Swiney had a Group 1 win under his belt, in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster, but could both of them — not one or the other — have improved so much that it was only a matter of picking which one to send to Newmarket?
At 79 years of age, could Jim Bolger be after unearthing two Group 1 colts, both owned by his wife Jackie, both bred by him, and both sired by his former Classic winners in New Approach and Dawn Approach.
I'm all for positive thinking, but I must admit that not even the most optimistic side of my brain was willing to accept this reality until Poetic Flare hit the front in the dip on the Rowley Mile about 3.45pm last Saturday.
He then showed the resolution to fight his way to the finishing post that matched the unquestionable hunger of his jockey, Kevin Manning, and all of a sudden the reality of what I had heard two days previously dawned on me.
Jim’s prediction was spot-on, but had he chosen Poetic Flare because he was by Dawn Approach and would be the best miler? If so, would Mac Swiney emulate his Daddy too and be the yard’s Derby horse?
Could we be in for a summer of Coolcullen Classic success rather than the Ballydoyle version, and if so, is Jim going to have to explain what he meant when he said that racing “was not a level playing pitch” in an Irish Field interview last January.
It looks to me like it always was unlevel if you had substandard horses but pretty level when you had the stock capable of competing.
Mac Swiney embarks on his chosen path towards Epsom glory tomorrow afternoon, with the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. Still, it has not proved a successful one since 2002, when High Chaparral won both races, something Galileo also achieved the previous year.
Yet, it does look like the ideal steppingstone for Jim to take with Mac Swiney — moving him up to 10 furlongs on his seasonal debut to test his stamina a little before the ultimate test in early June.
The so-called Derby trials have been coming thick and fast recently, with another today at Lingfield before Leopardstown tomorrow. The old ante-post favourite High Definition misses his trial today because of an inadequate blood test result during the week, and the Chester Vase or Dee Stakes winners did not scream Epsom heroes to me.
Perhaps Mohaafeth can take the step his sire, Frankel, was never asked and stay 12 furlongs which his dam’s sire, Sea The Stars, most definitely did. Or maybe Adayar will fly down the hill at Lingfield today and gallop his way into the frame.
Still, I feel that the Epsom picture will get a lot clearer tomorrow afternoon when Jim and Aidan have finished the shadow boxing in Foxrock.