Toronado brings the quality to Juddmonte feature

Bolger aiming for another vintage York success with Trading Leather

Kevin Manning on Trading Leather with trainer Jim Bolger after winning the  Irish Derby in the Curragh. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Kevin Manning on Trading Leather with trainer Jim Bolger after winning the Irish Derby in the Curragh. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times


Bookmakers reckon Trading Leather has it all to do against the ‘Big Two’ of Al Kazeem and Toronado in today’s Juddmonte International but what the Irish Derby winner has on his side is his trainer’s proven ability stretching back decades to beat the York odds.

It is 32 years since Jim Bolger first made a major impression on racing outside Ireland when the relatively unconsidered Condessa upset the 1,000 Guineas heroine Fairy Footsteps in a Musidora Stakes victory that proved to be only a prelude to her Yorkshire Oaks success back at the famous Ebor festival a few months later.

If that initial success provoked a few ‘Jim who’s,’ time has seen the master-trainer make an indelible impression at York including with other star names such as Lush Lashes and Polonia.

The Juddmonte though remains a blank with New Approach’s third to Duke Of Marmalade in 2008 notable for how York’s most prestigious race wasn’t even run in Yorkshire that year and provoking headlines into the “team tactics” controversy.

Just seven Irish-trained horses have won in total and Aidan O’Brien has produced something of a surprise in attempting to secure a fourth Juddmonte success with Declaration Of War rather than siding with either Derby winner Camelot or Ruler Of The World.

Bolger, however, is relying on his own Derby hero to make a winning return to the course and distance at which he was runner-up in May’s Dante. Since then Trading Leather has enjoyed his moment in the sun at the Curragh, and chased home Novellist in the King George, both races at a mile and a half.

Leopardstown bound
“He’s very well since the King George and he’s ready to go,” Bolger said yesterday. “He’s probably the best staying three-year-old around. After York he’ll go to Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Stakes.”

Such a plan illustrates Bolger’s determination to campaign Trading Leather at a mile and a quarter and underestimating the speed of a horse capable of getting placed in an Irish Guineas could be dangerous for either of the big guns today.

Toronado is a familiar foe to the Bolger team from his three clashes with Dawn Approach which confirmed the Hannon star as a top-notch miler. Richard Hughes is confident of Torondo’s stamina but there has to be a doubt about him at the trip, a comment that could also apply to Declaration Of War considering how his run seemed to peter out in the Eclipse.

Stepped back up
Since then the O’Brien horse has run in the Sussex and the Marois back at a mile so it is something of a surprise he is now being stepped back up in trip. “He loves fast ground and is a very hardy horse – he seems to be going the right way for his racing,” O’Brien explained yesterday.

In terms of proven form at the trip, Al Kazeem’s credentials are impeccable after a hat-trick of wins in the Tattersalls, the Prince Of Wales’s and the Eclipse. Much less certain is if he has faced any opponent of Toronado’s quality to date. The real strength in depth in the male three-year-old division this season appears to lie among the milers with Toronado a leading light. If he can translate that quality to a longer trip he will be a formidable opponent and in that regard its worth remembering Hughes’s conviction at the start of the season that Toronado was his first genuine Derby contender.

This may not be the Derby but rare is the Juddmonte winner that doesn’t possess more than one string to his bow.

Ballydoyle’s hope Foundry is a real dark horse among the Great Voltiguer field, bringing just one start to date to the Group Two, and that was back at the end of last year in a maiden. “He had one run last year and won nicely. We’ve been happy with him and he’s ready to start,” O’Brien reported yesterday.

The highly-touted Telescope is on something of a rehabilitation mission here after his Haydock defeat to David Livingston last time and at his first start at a mile and a half, there could be some value to be had with Willie The Whipper who was running on well at the end of the French Derby.