End of season curtain call at Leopardstown

Battle of the unbeaten colts in Killavullan Stakes, the final Group race of the year

A weekend which sees racing at Cheltenham and Aintree testifies to the changing of the racing seasons, but Jim Bolger could face the winter with classic optimism should Holistic Approach land Ireland's final Group race of the year at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Along with the Ger Lyons trained Territory, Holistic Approach is one of two unbeaten colts in the Killavullan Stakes, and, with just a week until the end of the turf season, there could be more than just Group 3 honours at stake if the pair fight out the finish.

Judged on winners, Lyons has been steadily closing the gap on third-placed Bolger in this season’s trainer’s championship and has made no secret of his ambition to overhaul his veteran rival.

Numerically, however, his two runners on Sunday fall well short of Bolger’s nine although the Killavullan may represent each’s best chance.


The seven furlong event has a classic pedigree but it is more than a decade since the subsequently top-class pair of Grey Swallow and Footstepsinthesand won back-to-back renewals.

There was a lot to like about Holistic Approach’s Curragh debut however. Over what looked an inadequate six furlongs, he overcame the experienced Ice Canyon and one of tomorrow’s rivals, Spirit Of Valor, who won his own maiden at Naas last Sunday.

That form was subsequently boosted by Imagine If during the week and it’s not unreasonable to anticipate further improvement from the Ballydoyle runner. However Holistic Approach should relish another furlong and can put himself into the 2017 classic picture with a win here.

Aidan O’Brien has 15 declared runners on Sunday, with five of them, including four by Galileo, appearing in the mile maiden. Belgravia is a full brother to the Derby hero Ruler Of The World and could be capable of overcoming last weekend’s Cork runner up, Clongowes.

Fascinating runner

Zwaraq is the most fascinating runner on the card. Winner of both his starts at Leopardstown, he hasn’t been seen in action since the spring of last year, after which he was ruled out through injury.

It has been a long road back for Zawraq and plenty has to be taken on trust in terms of his Trigo Stakes chance. Nevertheless, he does boast a 111 rating and it seems significant that Dermot Weld has persevered with him.

David Wachman is winding down his training operation before handing in his licence at the end of the season and White Satin Dance could provide something of a final hurrah in the fillies maiden.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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