Trading Leather (left) strides clear of his rivals in the Irish DerbyPICTURE: Getty Images
Irish Derby joy for Bolger with Trading Leather
Report: Curragh, Saturday
Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo
IF THE Derby at Epsom was instantly forgettable for Jim Bolger then the Curragh equivalent 28 days later will be forever memorable after the trainer broke Aidan O’Brien’s stranglehold on Ireland’s premier Classic with Trading Leather.
Bolger, so bemused by Dawn Approach's disappointing show at Epsom, gained rich compensation with his lesser-heralded star, who left the Derby 1-2-3 of Ruler Of The World, Libertarian and Galileo Rock toiling in his wake.
Ruler Of The World, sent off the 4-5 favourite to give O'Brien his eighth consecutive victory in the Curragh Classic, was ridden a long way off the furious pace set by Ralston Road and could only manage fifth.
In contrast Kevin Manning had Trading Leather more prominent in a strangely-run race and it proved a decisive move as the 6-1 shot took up the running two furlongs out before striding clear for a dominant victory.
Epsom third Galileo Rock (9-1) went one better with another tough staying display, while the Ballydoyle outsider Festive Cheer, who finished down the field in the Derby, gained third at 33-1.
Bolger was winning the race for the second time with the Dante Stakes runner-up, who did not go to Epsom but has since finished third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and won the Listed Silver Stakes.
"It doesn't get much better than this," the trainer said. "He is not easy at home - he takes a lot of riding and keeping under control. I can't credit my staff enough.
"We were very pleased with his Dante run, his first run of the year and he hadn't a great run up to that. We knew he'd improve a lot and [when he was third in the Irish Guineas], we got side-tracked but we had this race in mind all along."
The winner has been introduced at 5-1 for next month's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot by Paddy Power.
O'Brien was offering no excuses for Ruler Of The World. He said: "There's a big chance the gallop caught him out - at Epsom they went slow and he kicked and won but he wasn't going away at the finish then.
"Joseph's [O'Brien] first thoughts were that he did not get the trip. He could be more of a 1m2f horse at the top level. He also did get very warm, which he hadn't done at Epsom."
Libertarian beat Trading Leather at York but produced a lifeless performance on his first start for Godolphin and was beaten a long way from home.
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said of Libertarian: "He was beaten too far out for it to be real. We'll just have to take him home and talk plans then."