Saddling long-priced winners is something Jim Bolger isn’t usually known for, but he did it on the double at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Bolger made the headlines when he won the final two races on the card at handsome odds of 16 and 20/1.
The Invincible Spirit colt Edge Of Sanity drew first blood, battling well to take the mile and four 74/95 handicap under a typical Kevin Manning drive.
A seven furlong maiden winner on the all- weather at Dundalk back in October the five-year-old had few followers in the betting market as punters waded in on the Jessica Harrington runner Tri Na Ceile.
While Tri Na Ceile faded inside the two furlong marker and had to be content with fourth place Edge Of Sanity came from mid-division. Out of the Galileo Saor Sinn, he threw down his challenge a furlong and a half out before landing the spoils by half a length.
Manhattan Swing was second, with the Danesfort-trained Chicago a further three and a half lengths adrift in third.
Galileo was also responsible for Bolger’s second winner Sundara, who opened his winning account with a workmanlike display in the mile and four three-year-old maiden.
Ignoring his 20/1 starting price Sundara made every post a winning one to hit the wire three and a half lengths to the good. Out of the Irish 1000 Guineas winner Saoire the winner is bred to be something special, but that does not guarantee success. It looks as though Bolger has handicapping in mind for his charge.
Aside from the Bolger brace the rest of the meeting belonged to Dermot Weld who recorded a three-timer that included both the 1,000 Guineas trial as well Derrinstown Stud Derby trial and the mile Group Three race.
The master of Roswell House is certainly setting a scorching pace at the head of the trainers table and it looks as though he will have genuine challengers for Classic honours in contests at home and across the water.
The 1,000 Guineas trial looked a competitive affair with several well-regarded fillies in action and it certainly lived up to expectation with just a couple of lengths covering the first five home.
Victory went to Afternoon Sunlight, who just held the strong challenge of the Aidan O’Brien representative Place by a head.
A chestnut daughter of Sea The Stars, Afternoon Sunlight was a well supported favourite. Jockey Pat Smullen had her at the head of affairs right from the time the stalls opened and she showed plenty of resolve in the final drive to the line.
Speaking after the race Weld said that he is now viewing the Irish 1,000 Guineas as her next target. She is as brave as they come and since her pedigree is top drawer she is entitled to take her chance.
The trainer also has Epsom in mind for Fascinating Rock who was awarded the Group Three Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial in the stewards room.
In a race that was in all probability closer to Group Two level, Fascinating Rock was settled at the rear of the field by Pat Smullen. He came for his race a furlong and a half out but had an interrupted passage before going under to Ebanoran by a neck.
A protracted stewards inquiry followed and it came as no surprise that the placings of the first two were reversed. Weld said that this is not the way he likes to win races, but he was in no doubt but Fascinating Rock was the best horse in the race. This will be put to the test next month as both are likely runners in the Epsom Derby.
Mustajeeb got the Weld team off the mark with an impressive victory in the mile Group Three race for three-year-olds and over to claim a place in the line up for the Irish 2000 Guineas later in the month.
After shedding his maiden tag at Galway, Mustajeeb ran well when stepped up in class at the Curragh. According to the trainer he has gone the right way in the meantime and is expected to give a good account of himself in the opening Classic of the season.
Kevin Prendergast and his nephew P.J. fought out the finish of the opening two-year-old maiden with victory going to Kevin by a neck courtesy of Herewego. Very much a veteran of the training ranks, Kevin was a successful amateur rider before turning his attentions to training. Like his father - the legendary ‘Darkie’ - he is a top man at producing juvenile winners.
Making his debut Herewego found the early pace just a shade fast but since he is bred to be a mile or so horse he was putting in his best work at the finish to get up in the closing strides under Chris Hayes and defeat Splashtop.
Heavy overnight rain and again before racing turned the ground from good to near soft, which would not suit many of the runners, so there is a fair chance that we will see a few winners emerge for this race.