Dawn delivers in thriller
Published 18/06/2013 | 16:49
Dawn Approach got his career back on track with victory in a thrilling finish to the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Jim Bolger's 2000 Guineas hero had run deplorably when far too keen in the Investec Derby at Epsom, but was strongly-backed as the 5-4 favourite returning to a mile and once again pulled for his head in the early stages.
The three-year-old was seriously squeezed for room in the straight in an incident which also hampered Toronado, but picked up well in the hands of Kevin Manning and triumphed by just a short head as the pair of them battled all the way to the line.
Manning said: "It was so disappointing in the Derby. It was a big blow to everybody. Once I got my head in front and Richard (Hughes, on Toronado) was fighting me, he was always holding on. He's a real battler. I wasn't sure I'd won, but I thought he had."
Sheikh Mohammed, whose Godolphin operation owns Dawn Approach, added: "Jim bred the horse and he knows the horse very well, so we decided to run him. That proves to me he's the best miler in the world."
Reflecting on running so soon after the Derby debacle, Bolger said: "That's the nature of the sport - you take chances and sometimes they work and other times they don't. Sheikh Mohammed was a willing risk-taker. He was fortunate to survive the bump he got. He did and the rest is history. He's very tough and very hardy. I feel very happy. I knew he wouldn't let me down.
"I texted Simon (Crisford, Godolphin racing manager) saying be prepared for a shock (running Dawn Approach at Ascot). I felt he would be up for it. Simon spoke to his Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) and said he would be very happy to go along to Ascot. I always had faith in the horse and I knew whatever happened at Epsom was a one-off."
Toronado's rider Richard Hughes was in no doubt being hampered in the straight cost him victory. He said: "I would have won. I deliberately went around the outside to avoid the trouble. I had him rolling and had to stop and get him rolling again, but the winner is very brave."
His trainer Richard Hannon added: "I think he would have won, but at least he's back. He's a very good horse. The winner has been concertinaed, but we've been taken into the middle of the track. But that's racing and we're not dead yet."
Asked about a possible run in the Sussex Stakes, Hannon said: "He could go there. He'll have a break, but we'll take Dawn Approach on again."