Twenty-one years after the brilliant St Jovite gave him his only previous success in the Irish Derby, Jim Bolger won the race again at the Curragh on Saturday when trading Leather landed Ireland’s premier classic.
This was a real family affair, with the son of Teofilo carrying the colours of Bolger’s wife, Jackie, and ridden by his son in law, Kevin Manning. Trading Leather was also bred by Bolger.
“It’s the very best day, it doesn’t get much better than this”, said Bolger. “The last time I won the Derby, Budweiser were the sponsors.
“I wouldn’t be a fan of them, but am very happy to have Dubai Duty Free sponsoring the race.” It is no great secret, of course, that Bolger is very much anti-drink.
Ralston Road carried them along at a spanking gallop, but the outsider was never going to be able to maintain that and was gone early in the straight.
Another no-hoper, Cap O’Rushes enjoyed a brief moment in front, but well over a furlong down, Manning made his move, sending Trading Leather into the lead.
Galileo Rock, third in the Epsom Derby, was soon out after the new leader, but always being held and was a length and three parts adrift at the line.
“I never had any doubts about him getting the trip”, said Bolger. “He is entered in all the best races, I hope, but I will need to talk to Kevin before deciding what will be next.
“The ‘Arc is a possibility, but would have to be on good ground. The King George is another possibility, as well as the Juddmonte (York) and the Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
“I would have run this horse at Epsom, if Dawn Approach wasn’t going there. I wouldn’t run the two of them.
“I was very pleased with his run in the Dante, it was his first of the year and knew he would improve a lot.
“Then I got sidetracked in the Irish 2000 Guineas. I felt I had to support the race, but at least we made it a good pace.
“I want to thank Pat O’Donovan, Brian O’Connor, John Hayes, Adrian Taylor and all of my staff, who have done a great job, he is not an easy horse to deal with at home. He takes a lot of riding and can be difficult to control.
“This is a big day, to have bred, to own and to train him and have your son in law riding.”
Jackie Bolger commented: “Jim always said he would train me an Irish Derby winner.
“I think this is the tops, it is very special. It is always special when your son in law rides.
“We bred Soldier Of Fortune (won the Derby for Aidan O’Brien in 2007), and not only did we breed this horse, we bred his sire and the dam.”
Said Manning, enjoying his first win in the race: “He gallops, has pace and this means an awful lot to me.
“I thought it was a race that was going to get away. New Approach was pulled out 24 hours before the Derby with an injury and Teofilo also missed it.
“He travelled very well, picked up and lengthened. I was a bit afraid I’d hit the front too soon, but he galloped right to the line.”
Galileo Rock ran a cracker to claim the runner-up spot and emerged as easily the best of those who performed at Epsom.
He was third then, behind Ruler Of The World and Libertarian, but reversed those placings and looks a horse with a big future.
His trainer, David Wachman, said: “The winner won well, but we made a race of it and I’m very happy with that.
“He’s definitely stepped forward and I think will really come into his own as a four-year-old. ”
In contrast both Ruler Of The World and Libertarian ran deplorably. Ruler Of The World was ridden out the back by Joseph O’Brien, but was in trouble a long way from home and could only plug on one-paced to finish a poor fifth.
Aidan O’Brien said: “He’s had three quick enough runs and got a bit warmer than at Epsom. We may give him a break now, he deserves it.”
Libertarian, purchased by Godolphin on the lead-in to the contest, does not look a very good buy.
As usual, he was being pumped along from an early stage by William Buick and displayed little enthusiasm for the job in hand. He trailed in eighth of the nine runners.
* The attendance was 23,497, up 900 on last year.
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