Stable Jockey News: Bolger Staying Loyal To Cleary And McAteer This Season

Jim Bolger has provided the strongest indication yet that the stable jockey vacancy left by his retired son-in-law Kevin Manning at Coolcullen Stables will not be filled by an outside rider and that the legendary trainer will be staying loyal to Rory Cleary and Luke McAteer this season.

Cleary has already tasted major success for his long-standing boss when partnering MacSwiney (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}) to lead home a Bolger-trained one-two in the 2021 Irish 2,000 Guineas, outpointing Manning aboard the better-fancied Poetic Flare (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}).

It was at Galway last October when Derby-winning jockey Manning, 55, called time on his storied career after riding Bolger’s Vocal Studies (Ire) (Vocalised) to victory. 

His Derby win came in 2008 at Epsom aboard New Approach (Ire) and, all told, Manning was successful in eight British and Irish Classics.

Bolger failed to be drawn on a succession plan for his stable jockey of nearly 30 years back in October, however, with the Flat season a month away, hinted that Cleary and McAteer would share the rides going forward. 

When asked if he had made plans to appoint a stable jockey, the 81-year-old simply said on Tuesday, “I have been very well served by Rory Cleary and Luke McAteer in the past and I am sure that will remain the case into the future.”

He added, “Luke still has three pounds left on his claim and we will make full use of that.”

Luke McAteer |

Cleary is widely-regarded as one of the hardest-working riders in the weighroom and enjoyed another productive season last year when landing the G3 Eyrefield S. for Bolger at Leopardstown on Speirling Beag (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire})

He also enjoyed notable success for Sheila Lavery at that track on Irish Champions Weekend last year when guiding Moracana (Ire) (Elzaam {Aus}) to victory in the “Petingo” Handicap.

McAteer is yet another quality apprentice to come through Bolger’s famous production line. The Donegal native rode his first winner for the trainer in 2017 and has recorded tallies in the 20s for the past three consecutive seasons. 

Like Cleary, McAteer also enjoyed Group 3 success in the Eyrefield S. for Bolger, with that win coming in 2020 on Flying Visit (Ire) (Pride Of Dubai {Aus}). 

While Bolger explained that “appearances will be scarce” in terms of going racing this season, he revealed that his Coolcullen operation still hums to the tune of about 100 horses and that he has already started to make plans for the best of them.

He said, “I’ll have 100 horses this season. About 60 of those would be two-year-olds. Fleetfoot (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) will run in the 2,000 Guineas Trial over a mile at Leopardstown.

“I have a couple for the fillies’ trials as well. Comhra (Ire) (Vocalised), who was beaten a length by the Breeders’ Cup winner [Meditate (Ire) (No Nay Never)] is one and Clever And Cool (Ire) (Vocalised) is the other. She was bred by my late brother Patrick. He died a year ago and I miss him as he was a big help on the breeding side of things. There is improvement in those fillies this year.”

Asked about his breeding plans for the year, Bolger added, “We don’t make plans until we see the foal. It’s only then that we decide. But I will be using Dawn Approach big time. I’m still a believer. Also, I’ve always used New Approach, so I’ll continue to use him. I’ll send a few to him as well. We did some business last year with the O’Callaghans at Tally-Ho Stud. We sent a good few mares to Mehmas (Ire) and will send him more again.”

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