Bolger eyes Guineas success with Trading Leather

Manning renews partnership with colt

Trading Leather may be behind Dawn Approach in the pecking order at Jim Bolger's stables but unusually quick ground can enable him secure classic glory at the Curragh today and deliver the trainer a long-awaited first success in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

There is no argument Dawn Approach’s stunning triumph in the Newmarket Guineas earlier this month puts him clear of the European classic crop and the opening Irish classic of 2013 has something of a best-of-the-rest feel among racing’s big battalions.

Riding arrangements suggest Magician is top of Aidan O’Brien’s quartet today. But he has been switched here rather than head to Epsom next Saturday and was well behind Battle Of Marengo in ante-post Derby betting up to now.

Richard Hannon’s pair, Van Der Neer and Havana Gold, continue to struggle in perception terms if not reality with stable companions Toronado and Olympic Glory.


Trading Leather has always operated in Dawn Approach’s shadow but is clearly talented and can underline the strength in depth at Bolger’s Coolcullen yard if successfully negotiating the drop back to a mile this afternoon.

It is not unprecedented to make such a move. Sadlers Wells won the Derrinstown before landing the Curragh Guineas in 1984. And it is a move also attempted by Magician after his Dee Stakes win. Trading Leather didn't win the Dante last week but his second was meritorious considering how hard he pulled in the early stages.

The crucial factor to all this weekend's action though is quick ground, the likes of which will be a novel experience to many of the home three year olds.

Good to firm ground
Trading Leather is expected to thrive on it. It is much less certain if Fort Knox, Johnny Murtagh's first classic runner as an official trainer, or some of the others, will be in the same boat on a surface that was being watered to maintain at "good to firm" yesterday.

George Vancouver was a big disappointment in the English Guineas but should love the going, although it might be significant that Colm O'Donoghue, his rider at Newmarket, is now on Flying The Flag.

This son of the Curragh 1,000 Guineas heroine Halfway To Heaven was all but tailed off at one stage of the French Guineas two weeks ago but ran on noticeably well. This will be the first time Flying The Flag has raced on ground like this and he could run well at a big price.

However, Trading Leather can finally deliver Bolger the Irish 2,000 Guineas that the likes of New Approach and Star Of Gdansk failed to deliver over the years.

The one proven classic winner on show is the 2012 Oaks winner Was who concedes weight in the Group Three Abu Dhabi Stakes. This mile is short of her best and it could be another Coolmore hope, Aloof , who represents a better bet despite having to concede 3lbs to Caponata who was over eight lengths in front of her on their previous Gowran start.

It is the going which could be the great equaliser here as Aloof loves to hear her feet rattle and it is less certain Caponta will like it.

Eddie Lynam's sprint star Sole Power will be in action under Fran Berry in the Temple Stakes at Haydock an hour after stable companion Slade Power lines up in the Group Three Greenlands Stakes where a fast surface can again prove crucial.

Stubbs is middle-distance bred and has been overlooked by Joseph O’Brien in the Marble Hill. But there was plenty to like about his maiden win at Navan last weekend and Séamus Heffernan has long since perfected the super-sub role.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column