Dawn Approach camp bullish ahead of Goodwood mission

Dawn Approach (far left) on the way to winning The St James' Palace Stakes during day one of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.
Dawn Approach (far left) on the way to winning The St James' Palace Stakes during day one of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.
The start of racing on Washout Wednesday / Picture by Malcolm Wells

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Dawn Approach cannot lay claim to the title of champion miler until he has beaten Toronado fairly and squarely.

That is the verdict of Simon Crisford, who is racing manager for the stellar three-year-old’s owners Godolphin.

Dawn Approach, who is trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, breezed to a stunning success in the 2,000 Guineas earlier this season – leaving Toronado firmly in his wake.

However, last time out the three-year-old New Approach colt was given a real scare by his Richard Hannon-trained rival.

In the end, he held off Toronado by a neck to win the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot – putting a woeful showing in the Epsom Derby firmly behind him.

But the runner-up met with serious trouble in-running, leaving the Hannon’s and many racing experts to wonder what might have been.

Godolphin were understandably delighted with the triumph – toasting an eighth victory in nine outings for their stellar talent.

Now the dust has settled, though, connections have admitted they need to silence the Toronado fans once and for all if they wish Dawn Approach to be spoken about in the same breath as former champion milers such as Frankel.

And they will bid to do it in the Sussex Stakes on Wednesday, July 31 – day two of Glorious Goodwood.

Crisford expects Dawn Approach to frank his position as the number one miler when he runs on the Downs.

But he acknowledges the colt will have a fight on his hands – likening the clash to the battle between eventual winner King’s Lake and To-Agori-Mou in the same race in 1981.

The Godolphin racing manager said: ‘Jim is in the driving seat and knows the horse incredibly well.

‘He is keen to go for the Sussex Stakes and the horse is very, very well.

‘We expect summer ground, which is going to be quite quick.

‘Dawn Approach has handled that surface very well.

‘It is going to be a fantastic race and the highlight of Glorious Goodwood.

‘I think both camps believe they have the better horse.

‘Dawn Approach needs to beat Toronado fairly and squarely to establish himself as the true three-year-old champion over this distance.

‘And then he will head on to Deauville for the Prix Jacques Le Marois to take on Intello.

‘Toronado could warm us up a bit in the Sussex Stakes but I don’t think he will beat us.

‘Dawn Approach has beaten Toronado twice and hopefully he can do so again.

‘He is very courageous and has the perfect attitude for a miler.

‘The three big mile races in Europe now are the Sussex Stakes, the Jacques Le Marois and then the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

‘Only when we reach that race, will we talk about the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.’

Bolger is equally bullish about his inmate’s Sussex Stakes credentials.

He stressed Dawn Approach was also hampered in the Berkshire battle – suggesting he will have plenty in hand to beat Toronado again.

And revealed the undulating track at Goodwood holds no fears.

The Irish trainer said: ‘The races Dawn Approach has had this season did not take very much out of him.

‘I saw the St James’s Palace Stakes a couple of time afterwards and I was more interested in what happened to my horse rather than any other.

‘I know we got a good smack from the inside which knocked him sideways for a couple of strides but he recovered quickly.

‘He was very dour in the finish and he always would be if he has to be.

‘I respect all the runners who race against Dawn Approach. I enjoy competing in Group 1 races and so if that is rivalry, I am definitely enjoying it.

‘I am not really concerned about the course at Goodwood. I prefer a level track but it is the same for everybody.’