Jim Bolger the man to follow on Day 1 of the Irish Derby Meeting


Jim Bolger features strongly among the best bets of the first day of the Irish Derby meeting at the Curragh.

Two of the Coolcullen svengali’s three chances get the nod, while a third is definitively a nota bene in the ‘boys and girls derby’ midway through the card.

Fields Of May – Today FM Handicap (6:25)

Bolger’s three-year-old is much the best-treated horse in this contest, being 4lbs better off at the weights with her lowest-rated foe and 3lbs well in with Indian Landing at the head of the handicap.

As a two-year-old, her form was enmeshed with some fine horses – her debut saw her fifth to Legatissimo, while the second in the maiden she won was third to Found next time out.

Barely featuring on her seasonal bow on soft ground, she is expected to step up on that effort dramatically with good-to-firm going underfoot, having notched her sole win to date on just such a deck.

Eshtiaal – Donedeal Apprentice Derby (7:00)

Bearing the best riders in mind is always a shrewd ploy in races of this ilk and 4lb claimers Jack O’Connor and Daniel Redmond are both operating at a respectable 13% strike-rate that puts their rivals firmly in the shade.

They are aboard Eshtiaal and Alertness respectively and both have leading claims.

For all the latter runs off a feather-weight despite finishing second to the now 108-rated Father Christmas last time out, preference is for the former.

A 9st 12lb burden won’t phase a horse who completed a hurdles hat-trick under 11st 10lb on his most recent run.

Having gone up 16lbs over timber since last seen on the flat, his shrewd trainer Gordon Elliott may well have found him a nice opportunity to continue the streak.

Salthouse – Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund ‘Ragusa’ Handicap (7:30)

Willie Mullins is up to his old flat race-raiding tricks again with Sempre Medici, but Salthouse, of the incomparable Bolger yard, may just be too far ahead of the handicapper.

A hefty 13lb weight-for-age allowance is a fair boon for debutant in the weights for ratings game, especially when they’re already the fourth-highest rated in the contest having won their maiden by 5l at the third attempt.

Of the three opponents he beat that day, two have won, with one scoring in handicap company and the other winning another maiden by 5l.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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