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Silence is Golden?

Rick Dutrow isn’t the only trainer whose mouth gets him into trouble; across the pond, Jim Bolger is facing similar heat from the press, but for rather a different reason — his horse won. Confused? Here’s what happened:

Some months ago, Bolger had declared that New Approach (last year’s 2-year-old champion and part of the larger Darley firmament) was not under consideration for the Epsom Derby and that the fact that he was still left in as a nominee on May 23rd was an administrative oversight. Up until five days out, he continued to suggest that the race was not on New Approach’s calendar, angering many who would have liked to wager on (or against) the colt in advance of the race.

On race day itself, Bolger made no claims of invincibility for his horse; indeed, New Approach’s rank behavior on the way to the post and early in the race was not dissimilar to what we in the US would see from Big Brown some hours later — albeit with quite a different outcome:

New Approach, a racy chesnut colt who is all quality, earned his rightful place on the Derby roll of honour under a ride that will long be recalled as one of the best executed around this trickiest of tracks. Kevin Manning’s superb horsemanship was an essential part of this great triumph.

In the uphill run through the first half-mile, nobody could have envisaged New Approach taking a hand in the finish. He was fighting for his head, proving a nightmare ride for Manning.

As if that wasn’t enough, New Approach found himself at the rear of the field, buffeted between horses, giving him little chance to relax and conserve energy. Manning said it was not until reaching the seven-furlong pole that New Approach dropped the bit, but suddenly his major concern became the simple matter of not setting the colt alight down Tattenham Hill.

With Ryan Moore launching Tartan Bearer, the Dante Stakes winner, down the outside, Manning had somehow weaved through to the inside rail, carving up Rio de La Plata, the mount of Frankie Dettori, in the process. In a thrilling battle to the line, New Approach’s superior class was the telling factor as he won a shade cleverly, by half a length, with Casual Conquest, the 7-2 favourite, 4½ lengths away in third.

There is still controversy swirling as to whether the facts are as Bolger states — that he simply changed his plans — or whether the race was the target all along. In any case, despite a great performance by the horse, the British and Irish press are still very much on the side of the punters at this juncture; it will be interesting to see if they come around before New Approach’s next start in the Irish Derby on June 29th.

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