Despite their impressive physiques, thoroughbreds are delicate animals. Just ask any trainer. Timing and preparation are essential to the peak performance of racehorses and none more so than New Approach, who tackles Leopardstown's 1m2f tomorrow afternoon in the Irish Champion Stakes (6.50pm). Two weeks ago, the Princess Haya-owned colt competed in the hastily arranged Juddmonte International Stakes at Newmarket.
The Group 1 contest was moved from a rain-sodden York and New Approach faltered there against the might of the elder Duke Of Marmalade, trainer Aidan O'Brien's flag-bearer this season. The rescheduled event was the first time the Jim Bolger-trained colt had competed at a racecourse since his Epsom Derby triumph 10 weeks previously due to a hip problem. And it showed. New Approach took a fierce hold that day, and was heavily restrained in the rear by his regular jockey Kevin Manning. The experience took a lot out of the three-year-old son of Galileo, and the pair finished third, two-and-a-half lengths behind the mighty Ballydoyle runner and the Khalid Abdullah-owned Phoenix Tower in second.
Things are likely to be different tomorrow, however. New Approach has shown in the past that he can become tense ahead of a big occasion, but Bolger believes that staying in Ireland should have its advantages. There is also the subject of the going. Where the Newmarket race was run on good to firm, the course at Leopardstown has been generously sprinkled with rain, leaving the going description at good.
"Although he handles all types of going, like most racehorses he is better when the going isn't firm," Bolger said. There have been rumours emanating from the O'Brien camp all week that the participation of Duke Of Marmalade, who is seeking a sixth successive Group 1 victory, could still be in doubt as up to 25mm of rain is forecast tonight. Those rumours were not quelled at yesterday's declaration stage when O'Brien, who has won four of the last five Irish Champion Stakes, kept dual Leopardstown scorer King of Rome and Red Rock Canyon in the nine-runner field.
In racing, you cannot ask for more than a perfect preparation, and this time Bolger seems to have his charge tuned to the minute. email@example.com