Maestro Bolger makes an early statement

At a stage in life when most people have long since summoned the pipe and slippers, Jim Bolger is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.

Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the man may actually be speeding up, at least in his relentless pursuit of winners.

The Curragh staged the opening day of the turf flat season last Sunday and Bolger didn’t half make a massive statement of intent, winning four of the seven races on offer.

Now Bolger, born on Christmas Day, 1941, is 71, but clearly, to him, that is just a number and of very little importance.

He certainly doesn’t look his age and appears blessed with good health and seemingly boundless energy.

Bolger has been around for decades and more than stood the test of time. In 1991 he won an Epsom Oaks with Jet Ski Lady and the following year the brilliant St Jovite took the Irish Derby by half the track.

He has put countless top-class horses through his hands, but it is in latter years that his career has surged even further forward, with Teofilo, New Approach and Dawn Approach.

Teofilo, for instance, was unbeaten in five races as a juvenile, including Group 1 successes in the National Stakes at the Curragh and the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Injury prevented him from reappearing as a three-year-old and he was retired.

New Approach won the Epsom Derby in 2008 and, along with Teofilo, has helped to give the trainer a remarkable record in the Dewhurst.

Teofilo won the contest for him in 2006, New Approach the following year and Intense Focus completed the hat-trick in 2008.

Then his Parish Hall landed the Dewhurst in 2011 and Dawn Approach scored last year, giving him five of the last seven runnings of, arguably, the most prestigious two- year-old race on the calendar.

Anyway, back to the Curragh and that four-timer, starting with the two-year-old, Saburo.

A son of Cape Cross and bred to stay much further than five furlongs, he didn’t half know his job and was backed accordingly.

Saburo buckled down in fine style when the pressure was applied and Bolger’s subsequent comment: “If I was a punter I would back him until he was beaten,” was obviously highly significant.

The other Bolger winner worth mentioning is Rehn’s Nest, who turned over Dermot Weld’s hot-pot, Yellow Rosebud, in a Group 3. Now conventional wisdom should have dictated that Rehn’s Nest go for a maiden first time up, considering she failed to win in five attempts last season.

But Bolger saw things much differently and Rehn’s Nest stripped fit and well to beat Yellow Rosebud with a nice bit in hand.

Activity on Betfair last Sunday told a tale when it came to two horses in particular, the aforementioned Yellow Rosebud and Aidan O’Brien Piet Mondrian in the last, a maiden.

Yellow Rosebud seemed to have everything going for her in the Group 3, but galloped out to close to 9-10 near the off.

It was a price that seemed unthinkable throughout the morning, but those doing the hawking got it spot-on.

It was a similar story with Piet Mondrian. They were falling over themselves near the off to lay him on Betfair and he went higher than 6-4.

After cruising for most of the one-mile journey, Piet Mondrian died a thousand deaths from the furlong pole and, at the line, was beaten eight lengths into fourth place behind Alpinist.

It now looks virtually certain Sprinter Sacre will run over two and a half miles at Aintree next Friday.

He is set to face two very talented opponents in Flemenstar and Cue Card, but will still go off a short price.

So, will there be plenty willing to lay him? Absolutely and if you are one of those determined to lump on at tight odds then will have no problem being accommodated.

Once a horse moves out of his perceived comfort zone, against decent opposition, then you will always have punters lining up to take him on.

This will be Sprinter Sacre’s first attempt at beyond two miles and all the talk in the world, that he is actually bred to stay three miles, will not deter those anxious to take a chance.

There is always the possibility he won’t stay, obstacles have to be negotiated and neither Flemenstar nor Cue Card is exactly a mug.

Oscar Whisky, winner of the last two Aintree Hurdles, heads back for the hat-trick next Saturday.

He has already been installed near the head of the market, but it requires some leap of faith to want to be with him.

His performance in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham was unforgivable and here’s one who has had more than enough of this type of whisky.

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