Trading Leather on path to further glory after Irish Derby victory

Kevin Manning rides Jim Bolger’s colt to Curragh win


Not everything can have been wholesome among a raucous 23,500 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby crowd on a sunny Saturday evening at the Curragh but there was still a decidedly “holistic” feel to Trading Leather’s classic triumph.

Twenty-one years after sending St Jovite to run the fastest ever Derby at HQ, Jim Bolger produced Trading Leather, a colt he bred from a home-bred stallion, that he trains for his wife Jackie, and ridden by his son-in-law Kevin Manning, to finally break Aidan O’Brien’s seemingly vice-like grip on Ireland’s premier classic.

That Bolger also possesses another home-bred star in the Guineas hero Dawn Approach means a remarkable accumulation of talent has graduated through his Coolcullen academy this year, to the extent that a reasonable argument for the two best three-year-old colts in Europe are now resident on top of a Co Carlow hill.

No doubt counter-claims will be made for the French star Intello, and just as certainly, the Ballydoyle team will argue their Epsom hero Ruler of the World had a spectacularly off-day on Saturday when struggling home in fifth.

But unlike Epsom, with its controversial pace, and Dawn Approach’s spectacular implosion, there was a straightforwardness about Saturday’s classic that made excuses sound hollow, even allowing for Ruler of the World sweating up before the race.

Manning rode an admirably astute race on Trading Leather, stalking the pace and always appearing to have a decisive grip in the straight despite Galileo Rock’s persistent challenge.

It was a first Curragh Derby triumph for the jockey who had previously rued New Approach’s late-defection in 2008 and no doubt that was just an added factor to a success that Bolger described as a “career-topping-day”. 

Next up
Ascot’s King George, and a clash with older horses, appears to be next on Trading Leather’s agenda, the same route taken by St Jovite who followed up his track record exploits on home-ground with a resounding King George victory.

Only St Jovite, and Galileo, the stallion on which so much of Bolger’s top-flight resurgence in recent years is based, have run faster over the Curragh’s mile and a half than Trading Leather’s time of 2.27.27 at the weekend, and the current star is as low as 5-1 to emulate both of those former stalwarts who also landed the King George.

“We’ll look at the King George and mile-and-a-quarter races like the Juddmonte and the Irish Champion Stakes,” said Bolger, who yesterday indicated he favours keeping Dawn Approach at a mile, targeting the Sussex Stakes, the Prix Jacques Le Marois and the QEII later in the season.

In contrast, a drop back to 10 furlongs looks likely for Ruler of the World with jockey Joseph O’Brien indicating the odds-on favourite didn’t stay. Disappointing as he was, Ruler of the World still ran better than Godolphin’s purchase Libertarian who beat only one home.

“It was one race too many, too quickly,” said Karl Burke, husband of trainer Elaine Burke who will hand over Libertarian to Godolphin. “He’s had five runs in three months, and he’s a big raw horse. I’m sure he can turn that form round. He has beaten the winner [Trading Leather] in the Dante and he’s beaten the second in the Derby.”

Runner-up spot
Wayne Lordan had to settle for runner-up spot in the Derby but the jockey enjoyed a hat-trick before that, highlighted by Sudirman’s success in the Group 2 Railway Stakes. It was a second successive victory in the prestigious juvenile event for Lordan and trainer David Wachman who scored 12 months previously with Probably. Saturday’s crowd of 23,4007 was up almost 1,100 on the 2012 Derby attendance, which was hit by poor weather conditions. A Saturday evening date for the Derby is likely to be used again in 2014, according to track officials.