Mac Swiney looks to end 2021 in style in Hong Kong for trainer Jim Bolger

The home-bred colt finally broke Bolger’s duck in the Irish 2,000 Guineas in May

Mac Swiney will be running for Jim Bolger in Hong Kong on Sunday. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Mac Swiney will be running for Jim Bolger in Hong Kong on Sunday. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Classic winner Mac Swiney is set to try and end a landmark 2021 campaign in style for trainer Jim Bolger in Hong Kong on Sunday.

The home-bred colt named after the former Lord Mayor of Cork finally broke Bolger’s duck in the Irish 2,000 Guineas in May when leading home his stable companion Poetic Flare in a notable one-two.

He hasn’t won since but signaled a return to form when belying 40-1 odds with a third to Sealiway in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.

That was on good to soft ground while his Curragh classic victory on official soft to heavy going. Mac Swiney’s Futurity success as a two-year-old was on a heavy surface.

Conditions will be very different for Sunday morning’s €3.4 million Hong Kong Cup, one of four group one races at the final major international flat fixture of 2021.

Irish hopes also include an Aidan O’Brien trio led by Mogul who will defend the Vase crown he won last year.

Ballydoyle will also be represented in the mile-and-a-quarter Cup by Bolshoi Ballet while the wonderfully durable 1,000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth will be the only three year old lining up against the local hotpot Golden Sixty in the Mile.

The Irish runners arrived in Hong Kong at the weekend and both Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning will hope to emulate their memorable 2004 Cup success with Alexander Goldrun.

Mac Swiney will renew rivalry with Dubai Honour who finished a length and a half in front of him at Ascot although it is the Japanese Breeders Cup winner Loves Only You who bookmakers reckon is the one to beat.

It has been a somewhat turbulent year for Bolger with the veteran trainer - who turns 80 on Christmas Day - enjoying notable success on the track while also being at the centre of controversy about doping in Irish racing.

His claims that drugs are the sport’s number one problem, and that a Lance Armstrong figure exists within the sector, dominated headlines and led to a series of Oireachtas hearings which Bolger declined to attend.

His comments have angered many of his colleagues including O’Brien who in October criticised what he labeled “pub talk.”

Both Bolshoi Ballet and Mother Earth are outsiders in their respective races but Mogul is a general 11-2 shot to repeat his Vase success.

Top of the betting is the 2019 winner, Glory Vase from Japan, while other European interest in the mile and a half contest includes Ebaiyra from France and the British hope Pyledriver.

The latter’s rider, Martin Dwyer, won the Vase on Phoenix Reach 17 years ago and is confident of a prominent show by the Coronation Cup winner.

“He’s like a schoolboy in class who has all the talent in the world but can look out of the window if he loses concentration,” Dwyer said.

“This might be the last time I get to ride in an Hong Kong international race. I hope it isn’t but you never know and that’s why this chance has to be grabbed with both hands,” he added.

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