Royal Ascot: Redemption for Dawn Approach

“THIS game tames tigers” reflected Jim Bolger following Dawn Approach’s theatrical return to the main stage at Royal Ascot.

Kevin Manning and Dawn Approach, far side, battle Toronado, under Richard Hughes, in the St Jamess Palace Stakes. Picture: AP
Kevin Manning and Dawn Approach, far side, battle Toronado, under Richard Hughes, in the St Jamess Palace Stakes. Picture: AP
Kevin Manning and Dawn Approach, far side, battle Toronado, under Richard Hughes, in the St Jamess Palace Stakes. Picture: AP

The metaphor was apt but the courage shown by the Irish handler to run his colt in the St James’s Palace Stakes was that of a lion. Bolger stated soon after Dawn Approach’s Epsom Derby woes, when he finished last following an extraordinary display of headstrong truculence, that the horse would never again run over a mile and a half, although no specific plans were mentioned. However, until as late as last Wednesday there was no indication he would run at Ascot. The Coolcullen-based Bolger is, though, renowned as a trainer with an unquenchable thirst for a risk.

In a move which drew comparisons with Dawn Approach’s sire New Approach and his off-on participation in the 2008 Derby, which he duly won, redemption beneath heavy Berkshire skies was sweet and utterly satisfying.

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Dawn Approach, perhaps typically given his very recent past, did not make it straightforward and came off badly along with Toronado after Glory Awaits initiated scrimmaging two furlongs from home. A stewards’ inquiry was called and, while the placings were unlikely to be unaltered, the relief was tangible – not just for the many punters who had latched on to the 5-4 favourite, but, more importantly, for owner Sheikh Mohammed, whose troubles with Godolphin over the last few months have been starkly laid bare.

In truth, the gamble very backfired, as Dawn Approach again pulled very hard early on but this time, and possibly because he was reverting to a mile trip at which he has been brilliantly successful, Kevin Manning got to grips with a horse who must surely rank as being one of the biggest challenges of his career.

There was still work to do as Toronado, who deflated connections so painfully when only fourth in the 2,000 Guineas, showed resolution and speed in equal measure, especially after coming off perhaps worst of all in the Glory Awaits incident, which also did Magician no favours. One thing not open to debate about Bolger’s inmate is his class, which shone on the far rail in a haze of royal Godolphin blue as he got the verdict by a short head.

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 added: “He was fortunate to survive the bump he got. He’s very tough and very hardy. I always had faith in the horse and I knew whatever happened at Epsom was a one-off.”

Meanwhile, Eddie Lynam is looking forward to another busy campaign for tough sprinter Sole Power after he deservedly became a multiple Group 1 winner with victory under Johnny Murtagh in a thrilling King’s Stand Stakes.

Sent off at 8-1 for what was always going to be a fiercely-run affair, Sole Power looked to have plenty of work to do as he entered the last of five furlongs. Mike de Kock-trained 11-4 favourite Shea Shea, who had beaten Sole Power twice at Meydan earlier in the year, made the best of his way home on the far side and looked likely to give South Africa a maiden Royal Ascot victory. However, just as he has done on so many occasions at this meeting, Murtagh timed it just right and his mount flew home towards the stands side to get up right on the line. As the pair were so far apart, it went to a photo finish, but the Irish runner won by a neck.

The triumph gave Murtagh his 40th Royal winner and Lynam his first.

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War Command could be the next superstar for Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle team judging by an impressive display in the Coventry Stakes. The 20-1 chance was the last fancied of three runners for the yard in the six-furlong event but his brilliant finishing kick under Seamie Heffernan propelled him to a six-length verdict over Parbold.

Today’s main event is the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and jockey Joseph O’Brien is confident Camelot can return to his brilliant best. “We’ve done one or two things a bit differently at home with him and we’re hoping he can improve,” said Ireland’s champion jockey. “He seems in good form at home, we’re happy with him and we’re hoping he’s going to run a big race.”


Royal Ascot

2.30 Garswood

3.05 Duntle

3.45 The Fugue

4.25 Es Que Love (nap)

5.00 Rizeena

5.35 Hint Of A Tint


2.20 Our Gabrial

2.55 Prince Of Vasa

3.30 Rocket Ronnie

4.10 Springheel Jake

4.45 Wall Of Sound

5.20 Tectonic

5.55 Goodluckin Lucy


6.10 Mubtadi

6.40 Controversy

7.10 Air Of Glory

7.40 Dancealot

8.10 If So

8.40 Boston Blue

9.10 Purcell


6.50 Dream Vale

7.20 Lady Alaska

7.50 Gold Show

8.20 Shrimper Roo

8.50 Be Lucky

9.20 Up Ten Down Two


2.10 Dr Dalwhinny

2.45 Electric Tiger

3.20 Justjo

4.00 Busted Tycoon

4.35 Golden Acorn

5.10 Western Gale

5.45 High Ville

6.15 Man Of Steel.