Goodwood Festival News

Sussex Stakes: Poetic Flare still improving, says Jim Bolger

Tue 27 Jul 2021

Poetic Flare is bidding for a third Group One in an already busy season in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Jim Bolger’s colt has already won the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes, as well as finishing a close second to stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish Guineas.

It was his Ascot performance which had the ratings gurus purring, though, as he won by more than four lengths in what was his fourth run in a little over six weeks.

“Poetic Flare has been very well since the St James’s Palace Stakes,” said Bolger.

“We’re very happy with his work, and he seems to be improving further. I was expecting and hoping for him to win at Ascot, but possibly not as spectacularly as he did.

“He’s only had a break in as much as he hasn’t been racing, but he’s a horse who I have to keep moving, and so it hasn’t exactly been a holiday. He’s very well, and I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Poetic Flare’s sire Dawn Approach lost only to Toronado in the Sussex in 2013, a reverse that still seems to rankle with Bolger, and he would love to make up for it in the latest Qipco British Champions Series event.

“Dawn Approach was a really good horse on good ground or faster, and the day he was beaten by Toronado in the Sussex Stakes it was officially good to soft,” said the County Carlow trainer.

“It was moving on top, so he never really got a hold of it. He didn’t like it.”

The deluges which turned the Goodwood going heavy for the start of this year’s meeting may not be in Poetic Flare’s favour either – but his trainer is not fretting.

Bolger added: “It was fast ground when Poetic Flare won at Ascot, and it might well be that he’s better on that better ground, but he seems to handle all going and he’s pretty good on soft too.

“My preference would be for good ground, but I’m not much given to worrying anyway. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. I’m very happy with my horse, and I don’t worry too much about anybody else’s.”

Poetic Flare may have most to fear from the two fillies, Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern.

The latter came out on top in the Falmouth Stakes, having finishing behind Alcohol Free in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Snow Lantern’s trainer Richard Hannon decided to stay at a mile rather than go up in trip for the Nassau later in the week. Jamie Spencer replaces the suspended Sean Levey in the saddle.

Hannon said: “Snow Lantern looked a very good filly in the Falmouth, and she was probably at her strongest at the line, so I don’t think the longer trip in the Nassau would have been any problem.

“But we are sticking to a mile for now, because we know she is very good at the trip.

“The ground was a big factor too, because she showed she could handle the soft when she ran so well in the Coronation Stakes, and one or two others might not be so good on it. It’s a hot race, but it would be a very nice one to win if we could.”

Hannon also runs Chindit, behind Poetic Flare at both Newmarket and Ascot.

“We’ll ride Chindit much handier,” he said.

“I’ve felt that in both of his races this year he’d been left with a little work to do, but he could have finished second in the St James’s Palace with a bit more luck.

“We’ll be keeping closer tabs on the front runners, and if he’s going to get beat again I want it to be because he couldn’t run fast enough rather than anything else. He’s going to get the mile, no problem.”

Andrew Balding said of Alcohol Free: “She’s a high-class filly, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“It looks like conditions should be ideal. It’s a very strong race, as it should be.

“The turning track seemed to suit her really well when she won at Royal Ascot, so I think Goodwood will suit her really well.

“At Newmarket in the Falmouth it wasn’t the plan to make the running, and she rather set it up for the others. Hopefully if there’s some sort of pace to aim at she’s got a fairly electric turn of foot. I’m really excited about her.”

The Charlie Hills-trained Tilsit is progressing nicely and took the Summer Mile comfortably enough last time out

“His Group One defeat in France at the start of the season was frustrating, because he was in front just before the line and just after the line,” said Hills.

“I was really pleased with his subsequent win in the Summer Mile at Ascot – he did it in great style. He’s probably come out of Ascot the best he’s come out of any race – he’s in great form.

“He won a Group Three at the meeting last year, so we know he handles the track.”

Aidan O’Brien, who declared Battleground a non-runner on Monday, is still represented by Lope Y Fernandez and Breeders’ Cup winner Order Of Australia.

“We are looking forward to Lope Y Fernandez and we think he’s come forward again since Ascot (second to Palace Pier),” said O’Brien.

“We are very happy with him. He’s very straightforward and is progressing well.

“Order Of Australia has come out of his win at the Curragh very well, and the Sussex Stakes is a race which could suit him. He’s a hardy older horse who likes fast ground, and a mile is probably his trip – he gets it very well.”

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