New Dawn for Sheikh's next Classic generation
Unbeaten Dawn Approach struts to another fine victory to underline promise of a bright future
For understatement, it would be hard to beat John Ferguson's summation of events here and, from his standpoint as one of Sheikh Mohammed's advisors on bloodstock, for accuracy as well. Last month, as part of the Sheikh's annual headhunt of juvenile talent, his team picked out Reckless Abandon, who won yesterday's first Group One contest, the Middle Park Stakes. A few weeks earlier they secured Dawn Approach, who swiftly made it a top-level double in the Dewhurst Stakes. "A good day's work," said Ferguson.
Yesterday was billed as Future Champions Day, a tag which seems more likely to be justified by Dawn Approach of the pair. The chestnut is now unbeaten in six runs, is a short-priced favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas and, with every strand of his form rock-solid, looks certain to be this year's top-rated of his generation.
He continued his trainer Jim Bolger's remarkable hegemony in the seven-furlong contest that produces more subsequent Classic victors than any other in the calendar, being the fifth success in seven runnings for the canny Irishman, a list headed by the latest hero's sire, New Approach.
The only anxious moment in the race for Dawn Approach's fans came when his rider, Kevin Manning, asked him to catch the leader, his pacemaking stablemate, the 33-1 shot Leitir Mor. On the downhill run to the uphill finish it took the 30-100 favourite just a stride or two to get organised, but once he did he powered away convincingly to take the £170,130 prize by nearly three lengths.
"Good horses always find something," said the Sheikh. "I was impressed with him from the time he won his maiden. We are very happy with the way things have turned out."
The Sheikh's interest in Dawn Approach is a case of like father, like son. Five years ago he acquired New Approach from his breeder, Bolger, during his first season, won the Derby with him the following year and has seen him develop into the industry's most sought-after young stallion. Dawn Approach was the first to advertise his talent as a sire when he won Ireland's first juvenile race of the year back in March.
Since then the colt's victories also include the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the National Stakes at the Curragh. "I never really had any concerns today," said the Co Carlow-based Bolger. "He just has a lazy style of running. Kevin has to wind him up, but he gets there.
"He seems to be every bit as good as his sire – he's had that strut right from a yearling – but he's much more laid-back, which makes him easier to handle and consequently to train. If anything he's almost too lazy at home; he can get gross. Keeping him in trim is going to be the challenge this winter."
Unlike some of the Sheikh's in-training acquisitions for his Godolphin operation, both Dawn Approach and Reckless Abandon will remain with their present trainers, in the latter's case Clive Cox, instead of being diverted in-house.
Reckless Abandon, now five for five, had a tougher time to preserve his own unbeaten record than Dawn Approach; it was only by a neck that he rallied to catch Moohaajim in the last stride of the six-furlong Middle Park Stakes, with Gale Force Ten another neck third.
His battling effort gave the Hungerford-based Cox his first domestic Group One success. But if yesterday was a good day's work for some, it was not for Moohaajim's jockey, Adam Kirby, who has yet to ride a top-level winner and had the pick of the first two to finish.
He would, though, have been hard-pushed to beat the ride given to feisty Reckless Abandon by Gérald Mossé. The veteran Frenchman clamped his mount against the standside rail and ahead of the field, taking advantage of the tailwind that can help those in front to an easy lead.
"When it came to the finish he kept fighting," said Mossé. "Every time I asked him for more, he answered." Reckless Abandon carried the colours yesterday of his first owners, Julie Deadman and Stephen Barrow, to whom the Sheikh has leased him back and who picked up nearly £70,000 yesterday.
Although the little bay, who cost a bargain £24,000 as a yearling, has been introduced into the Guineas betting at 14-1, yesterday's race is one that generally highlights top sprinters, notably Oasis Dream and Dream Ahead recently. "He's clearly got a lot of speed," said Cox.
Whatever any of yesterday's schoolboy athletes – who included another trained by Bolger, Trading Leather, in a lesser race – achieve in the future, they will be hard-pressed to match the exploits of a certain Frankel, the Dewhurst Stakes winner two years ago. Now unbeaten in 13 starts, the superstar will bow out on Saturday at Ascot in the Champion Stakes, the centrepiece of Champions Day, a senior programme that, with purses totalling £3 million, is Britain's richest raceday.
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