The Jim Bolger-trained Poetic Flare caused an upset at Newmarket, England, on Saturday, when winning the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.
The son of Dawn Approach, who started the first British Classic of the season as a 16/1 chance, had his head down at the right time on the wire to beat Master Of The Seas (6/1) into second with Lucky Vega (12/1) back in third.
The win was extra special for seventy-nine year-old Bolger as Poetic Flare carried his wife Jackie’s colours and the colt was ridden by their son in law Kevin Manning.
The winning sire, Dawn Approach, was also bred and trained by Bolger and won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas back in 2013.
Naval Crown set the early pace in the Group 1 contest in which the Aidan O’Brien-trained Battleground, the eventual 13th place finisher, started the 9/2f.
Eventual runner-up Master Of The Seas, in the Godolphin silks under jockey William Buick, travelled comfortably to Poetic Flare’s right for much of the race. The pair settled down to battle it out in the closing stages of the one-mile race with neither giving an inch.
In a photo-finish, the Listed Ballylich Stud 2000 Guineas Trial winner at Leopardstown, Ireland, last month, Poetic Flare, took the race by a short head from the Charlie Appleby-handled son of Dubawi, with a neck further back to Lucky Vega. The latter, a colt by Ballylinch Stud’s Lope de Vega, had challenged strongly in the dying stages of the race but had to settle for third place for Irish trainer Jessica Harrington.
The winning conditioner Jim Bolger, based at Coolcullen, County Carlow, Ireland, since 1982, stands the Classic-winning Dawn Approach at his own Redmondstown Stud in his native County Wexford.
The shrewd and experienced Bolger has handled many top-class horses during his career including St Jovite, Teofilo, New Approach, Flame Of Tara, Give Thanks, Margarula, Park Appeal, Jet Ski Lady, Eva Luna, Alexander Goldrun, Finscéal Beo and Pléascach.
The winning rider, fifty-four year-old Kevin Manning, who became the oldest jockey to win a British Classic since Lester Piggott won the same race with Rodrigo De Triano in 1992 at the age of 56, said of Saturday’s victory:
“He’s usually a very switched off horse who takes everything in his stride, but he left the gates very quick and on the wrong note and it just took a furlong and a half or two furlongs to reorganise and get into a rhythm.”
Manning, who won the 2013 QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Dawn Approach, continued:
“He’s very smart and has done it very well. He travelled well and picked up well. He just caught me off guard coming out of the gates and I had to sit and suffer, but I didn’t feel he was taking as much out of himself as it might have looked.”
Manning was quick to praise his father-in-law, Jim Bolger, stating:
“It’s a great training performance. I made no secret about this horse coming here that I really fancied him. I thought whatever beats him would win.”
“Going down into the dip, when he quickened up I thought he’d put it to bed” Manning admitted, before elaborating “In the last five or six strides he was just idling a little bit and coming back underneath me. It’s great to get to the other side of it (line, in front).”
Jim Bolger, who didn’t travel to England for today’s Classic said of Poetic Flare:
“I thought he was beaten! It’s a big day for us, right up there with the best we’ve had. It’s a wonderful day. In our case it’s fairly necessary with the way I do things! It very much carries on that Dawn Approach line, and I have two half-sisters of Poetic Flare as well.”
“He’s the most complete racehorse I’ve ever had,” Bolger confidently admitted, before adding, “He’s the complete package – you couldn’t find a fault with him. If he was sent to a new trainer in the morning he’d just pick it up from there.”
Discussing future plans for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner, Bolger said:
“I’m not too concerned about him getting further in time. Kevin did say that he thought he’d stay 10 furlongs, but at the moment I’m not thinking about going anywhere except the mile. He has buckets of speed and I even entered him in the Commonwealth Cup (at Royal Ascot in June) in the unlikely event that he didn’t stay, as he’s that quick and you always have some doubts about whether the very quick ones will stay or not. The St James’s Palace (Royal Ascot) would definitely be on the cards.”
Saturday’s win for Poetic Flare was a 13th QIPCO 2000 Guineas victory in the last 20 years for Irish-based trainers.
Photos: Courtesy of Breandán Ó hUallacháin