At 79 and 54 years of age respectively, Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning are among the more senior trainer-jockey combinations in the Flat racing game. As Poetic Flare’s narrow success in the 2,000 Guineas here proved, however, Bolger’s ability to train a horse to the minute remains as acute as ever, and so too does Manning’s knack of timing a challenge to perfection.

There was just a short-head between Poetic Flare and Master Of The Seas at the line, but the nod favoured the 16-1 chance to give Bolger and Manning, his son-in-law, a second success in the Newmarket Classic, eight years after their victory with Poetic Flare’s sire, Dawn Approach.

It was a family success in every way, as Poetic Flare is owned by Bolger’s wife, Jackie, and a triumph too for the bloodlines that the winner’s trainer and breeder has nurtured over many generations at his stable and stud farm in County Kilkenny.

“I bred him, I bred the dam and the sire, the whole lot,” Bolger said. “And I also bred his second and third dams, so they’ve been around here a long time.

“He has a marvellous temperament, a wonderful turn of foot, you can put him anywhere in a race, he goes on any ground and he has the looks to go with it. In his short career, he’s been delivering and I’m sure he’ll keep on delivering.”

Poetic Flare has now won four of his five starts, with the solitary blemish on his record coming in last season’s Dewhurst Stakes, when he finished 10th of 14 on only his second start.

“After he won his maiden [in March] and because of the lockdown, we put him on the easy list and almost immediately he began to grow,” Bolger said. “He grew two inches between then and July. I’ve never seen a horse grow like that, and growth takes precedence over performance with racehorses, so we had to go easy on him.

“I knew he wasn’t cherry-ripe going to the Dewhurst but I thought he’d give us a yardstick, and he could also have a look at Newmarket as I felt he’d be going back the following year.”

Manning, meanwhile, is the oldest jockey to win a British Classic since Lester Piggott took the 2,000 Guineas on Rodrigo De Triano in 1992 as a 56-year-old.

“I thought I would win but not that it would be that close,” Manning said. “He is very smart. He’s never done anything wrong [and] you couldn’t ask for a more straightforward ride. He’s a horse on the up and keeps improving.

“To win any of these Classics is an amazing moment, they are so hard to win as they don’t come around every day of the week and when Jim has one with ability, he doesn’t leave it behind.”

Poetic Flare was cut to around 7-2 (from 16-1) for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in mid-June after this success but Bolger expects him to run in either the French 2,000 Guineas in a fortnight’s time or the Irish version of the Classic a week after that.

Bolger, who also has last year’s Vertem Futurity Trophy winner, Mac Swiney, in his stable, even suggested – in his typically inscrutable way – that Poetic Flare might be up to running in both of the month’s remaining Classics.

“I was thinking the other day that if ever there was a horse to win three Guineas, he would be the one to try it with.


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