New Approach returns to winning ways
REPORT: IRISH CHAMPION STAKES, Sunday
NEW APPROACH on Sunday did what his mother, ParkExpress, had done 24 years earlier by landing the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes.
While his half-length win from 50-1 shot Traffic Guard at Leopardstown was not visually impressive, trainer Jim Bolger, who with KevinManning was completing a Group 1 double on the day following Lush Lashes's victory in the Matron Stakes, was adamant the Derby hero had "bundles in the tank".
With Duke Of Marmalade's long-threatened absence from the race being confirmed early on Sunday morning, New Approach was the only previous top level winner in the line-up for the 25th running of the event.
The plan for New Approach now is to contest two races from a choice of the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Bookmakers' reaction to Sunday's victory and what it meant for his Arc prospects varied.
VCbet, Blue Square and Coral trimmed his odds, to 6-1 to 8-1, but William Hill, Boylesports, Stan James and Ladbrokes lengthened them. Ladbrokes quote 12-1 (from 10).
Sent off the 8-13 favourite on Sunday, New Approach raced a bit keenly early on but was soon settled in second place behind Red Rock Canyon before hitting the front into the straight.
Traffic Guard came at him hard inside the final furlong but Manning's mount was always doing just enough in the closing stages.
Bolger said: "There wasn't much pace on early but he settled well after a couple of furlongs and Kevin was happy being where he was. He was only doing what he had to do after he went to the front and there was bundles in the tank. It was an easy enough race for him and he should come out of it very well.
"His run in the Juddmonte International left him spot-on in terms of fitness for today and for the past two weeks he didn't do any fast work as such. All he did was steady cantering."
Looking to the future, Bolger added: "He's in the Arc and Champion Stakes, and Sheikh Mohammed is keen on him running in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"When we did our deal with Sheikh Mohammed it was agreed that New Approach would be left with me for this season and would then go to Godolphin as a four-year-old.
"We will have to wait and see what happens, but I think the owners are now thinking more in terms of retiring him at the end of this year."
Manning said: "I was happy with the pace when Red Rock Canyon stepped up a gear around halfway. The ground was dead and my horse just did enough. That's what he always does, and he would have found more if he had to. The stronger the race, the better he likes it."
While Jane Chapple-Hyam was delighted with the performance of runner-up Traffic Guard, she was not surprised by the four-year-old's display, and was clearly miffed at how the colt's chances had been dismissed by bookmakers and pundits alike.
She said: "I couldn't believe it when I saw him quoted at 100-1 during the week.His form was better than that - just look at his run at Newmarket when he was beaten only a head by Phoenix Tower and finished in front of Multidimensional, as he did again today.
"After he ran in Singapore we put him out on grass for eight weeks. That nearly paid a big dividend today and, hopefully, it will do so before the end of the season. We're hoping to take him to Australia to run in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley next month."
John Egan, rider of Traffic Guard, reported: "I'd have loved if Duke Of Marmalade had run as we would have had a proper pace. I'm not taking anything away from the winner or saying we would have beaten him, but we'd have preferred a stronger gallop. A lot of people underestimated our horse, but I didn't."
Mores Wells was one and a quarter lengths back in third and trainer Kevin Prendergast will wait until declaration time on Friday before deciding if the four-year-old will line-up for the Irish Field St Leger on Saturday.
Mores Wells finished third in that Group 1 event last year and Prendergast said: "He's run a very good race and seems to have come back in good shape. But it's only six days to the Irish St Leger and we'll see how he is during the week."
Ted Durcan said of Multidimensional, who lost out by a short head to Mores Wells for third place: "I have no excuses. I thought for a while early in the straight that we might finish second, but it wasn't to be."