10/17/2008 11:00PM

Team scores two Group 1's at Newmarket


The Irish trainer-jockey combination of Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning were once more the toast of Newmarket on Saturday as they pulled off a Group 1 double with hot favorite New Approach in the Champion Stakes and outsider Intense Focus in the Dewhurst Stakes.

The two races could not have been more different. New Approach, having the final race of his life, took his career bankroll to near the $4 million mark with a dominant display, trimming almost a second off the course record as he covered the 1 1/4 miles on good turf in 2:00.13.

His margin of victory was six lengths, while in the Dewhurst three horses went past the wire locked together. As they pulled up, none of their jockeys knew who had won, but the judge soon announced that the 20-1 chance Intense Focus had prevailed by a nose from Lord Shanakill, with Finjaan the same distance back in third.

Intense Focus crossed the line just two lengths in front of the seventh-placed Rip Van Winkle, the 3-2 favorite.

The Epsom Derby winner back in June, New Approach will now retire to stud as the winner of 8 of his 11 career starts, including five Group 1 races. He would have completed a clean sweep of Newmarket's three biggest events over the Rowley Mile course but for being pipped at the post by Henrythenavigator in the 2000 Guineas.

Bolger said of New Approach, "It was his last run and he has done everything right and it is all over now. He is the finest horse I have trained in my career at beyond a mile."

Bolger and Manning decided to keep the tactics simple, as New Approach sat close behind his pacemaker, Upton Grey, until kicking for home at the three-eighths pole. It was soon apparent that nothing would get near him, and although runner-up Twice Over had a little trouble getting a clear run, it made absolutely no difference to the result.

Intense Focus, who had won only one of his eight previous starts, had at least proved himself in Group 1 company when he was third to Naaqoos at Longchamp two weeks earlier.

Bolger, who was celebrating his third consecutive victory in the Dewhurst, Britain's most prestigious 2-year-old race, said of Intense Focus, "He's a hardy horse. He was nine pounds heavier today than in Paris last time, so we knew we were on the right track."

Manning said that the return to a fast surface had made a big difference to Intense Focus, a son of Giant's Causeway who is owned by Bolger's wife, Jacqueline.