Owner. Breeder. Trainer. Mentor to some of the best.
Jim Bolger started training in the late 1970s and is recognised as one of Ireland’s greats. He was born on Christmas Day, 1941, but is still going strong.
Never mind all the top horses who have passed through his hands. Aidan O’Brien, the multiple champion trainer, and Tony McCoy, probably the greatest ever jump jockey, were one-time apprentices for him.
He’s won many of Ireland’s top races – including the Derby with St Jovite (1992) and Trading Leather (2013) – and the only Classic in England to have eluded him has been the St Leger. Perhaps Mac Swiney, game winner of the Group 1 Vertem Futurity in October, will put that right in 2021.
Jet Ski Lady won the 1991 Oaks by a spectacular ten lengths for him at 50-1 in 1991 and the following year St Jovite was runner-up in the Derby before landing the Irish version in a record time before scooping the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Finsceal Beo landed the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Irish equivalent in 2007 before the brilliant New Approach triumphed in the Derby and Champion Stakes in 2008.
New Approach’s son, Dawn Approach, was Europe’s champion two-year-old for Bolger after an unbeaten season in 2012 and won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas by five lengths on his return.
After failing to stay in the Investec Derby, he bounced back to win the St James’s Palace Stakes followed by a narrow defeat in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes. He also saddled Trading Leather to win the Irish Derby that year and claim second place in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Juddmonte International.
Bolger completed an unusual juvenile treble in late October 2020. In addition to the big wins of Flying Visit and Mac Swiney, he also bred a Group 1 hero in France on the same afternoon when Mark Johnston’s Gear Up won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.