ST JAMES’S PALACE STAKES (Group 1)
Ascot, Turf, 1609m
18 June 2013
Just 17 days since his blow-out in the G1 Epsom Derby, Godolphin’s Dawn Approach (Ire) (New Approach) paid the ultimate tribute to the informed guile of his intuitive trainer Jim Bolger when winning the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. After a pulsating war of attrition with the rival who should have been his main threat in the G1 2000 Guineas, Toronado (Ire) (High Chaparral), placed himself back on the mantle that his breeder and conditioner had placed him as early as his G2 Coventry Stakes victory here 12 months ago.
Dawn Approach’s career has been against the grain for most of the way so far, including a surprise debut win for a colt with his pedigree in the opening five-furlong maiden at The Curragh last March followed by his defeat of more precociously-bred rivals in the Coventry at this meeting. While the route was more predictable afterwards as he took the G1 National Stakes at The Curragh and Newmarket’s G1 Dewhurst Stakes and 2000 Guineas, a tilt at the Derby was another diversion from the obvious. Due to his ability to successfully adapt to whatever test he sent to contest, the majority believed that the blue riband was a dream within reach and the answer remains in the ether after he wrecked his opportunity just yards from the start of this one.
Having said he would not be going to Ascot, the Irish maverick u-turned as he had with the colt’s sire ahead of the Derby five years ago, and it was up to the flashy chestnut to provide the justification for that choice and deflect the critique that was certain to come Bolger’s way if failure was the outcome.
For much of the first half of this contest, the tension rose for connections as he teetered on the edge under Kevin Manning once again, but with Leitir Mor (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor) setting the honest sprinter-miler fractions he needs, the extravagance was successfully contained. Following the move of Magician (Ire) (Galileo) as they turned for home, he was the victim of scrimmaging as Glory Awaits (Ire) (Choisir) jinked into the Ballydoyle raider, causing interference to both the winner and patiently-ridden runner-up at the quarter pole. Undeterred, the dominant duo set down for the duel to the line and, although Toronado held a slight edge for a few yards inside the final furlong, it was Dawn Approach who had that extra ounce of reserve.
“The Derby was a big blow to everybody and so disappointing, so to come back and do that is fantastic,” said winning jockey Kevin Manning. “He took a bit of a bite and lit up again, but I arrived there full of running and thought I was going to do it well only for the horse on the inside to come out and catch me in the girth. Once I got my head in front, he was always holding the runner-up. He’s very gutsy and determined and a real battler. He was very impressive in Newmarket and it was a shock at Epsom - I still can’t make head nor tail of it, so have drawn a line through it and moved on. I always felt he was a horse who would go beyond a mile, but we tried it and it didn’t work.”
“The biggest risk is not taking the risk,” commented Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in reference to the Bolger’s late decision to run. “Jim bred the horse and knows the horse very well, so when he decided to run, we all supported him. That proved to me that he’s the best miler in the world.”
Jim Bolger added, “The nature of the sport is that you take chances and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but Sheikh Mohammed was a very willing risk-taker. He’s very tough and hardy and was fortunate to survive that knock. I knew he wouldn’t let me down.”
Extract from Thoroughhbred Daily News