Trading Leather aims to add King George to Irish Derby success
Irish star can strike for three-year-old crop
Kevin Manning riding Trading Leather win The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at Curragh racecourse last month. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.
There was a time when the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes was an almost automatic next-step for any Irish Derby winner and Jim Bolger will hope Trading Leather can provide a successful “blast-from-the-past” when he tackles Britain’s premier all-aged feature at Ascot today.
It is 10 years since John Oxx’s Alamshar last completed the Irish Derby-King George double and since then only one member of the classic crop, Nathaniel, has won a race that in the past confirmed greatness on legendary names such as Nijinsky, Shergar, Troy and Grundy.
Prior to the King George, they had all scored in Ireland’s premier classic but Trading Leather is going somewhat against the grain in trying to follow up his Irish Derby success in a race that has increasingly become something of an older-horse affair.
Sure enough only the Irish hope and the supplemented Hillstar, trying to make Sir Michael Stoute the most successful trainer in the history of the race with six wins, represent the classic generation this time, although it is familiar territory for Bolger.
He memorably saddled St Jovite to complete the Irish Derby-King George double in 1992 and admits it is only the tempo of the race that is causing him any concern this time.
“We’d like nice pace for him and hopefully we’ll get that,” he said. “After that I don’t really have any worries about him. Mentally he’s very good. He’s a bit edgy going down to the start after Kevin (Manning) gets on him but when he gets there he’s fine and settles well in his races.”
Victory for Trading Leather would make him the 12th Irish trained winner of the King George, a race that had been targeted by St Nicholas Abbey prior to his career-ending injury, and which still looks a truly international affair with the top French horse Cirrus Des Aigles joined by the Qatar-based Very Nice Name and Germany’s Novellist.
The latter has his own Irish input with the in-form Johnny Murtagh taking the mount on a horse that beat Cirrus Des Aigles in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time.
“He’s a typical German horse – tough, stays well, a good trainer,” said Murtagh, who is seeking a fourth win in the race. “He’s won Group One’s in Germany, and won one in France last time. He beat Cirrus Des Aigles and I’m hoping he can again. He should be fighting out the finish as it’s a wide open race with St Nicholas Abbey out.”
Christophe Soumillion takes over from the claimed Oliver Peslier on Cirrus Des Aigles whose trainer Corrine Barande-Barbe said yesterday: “It was always organised that if Olivier couldn’t ride, Christophe will. He knows the horse and he knows Ascot so it is not a problem. He won in Dubai where the ground was very fast and his turn of foot allows him win over any distance.”
The Jim Bolger-Kevin Manning team will also be in Ascot action in the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes where Chroussa won’t have any Ballydoyle opponents to prevent her trying to secure a first win. Runner-up to both Perhaps, and to Tapestry at the Curragh six days ago, Chroussa faces nine opponents.
There will also be Irish interest in the following mile handicap where Zalty from David Marnane’s yard is joined by Machete Mark.