A CONVINCING performance from Dawn Approach saw Jim Bolger strengthen his grip on the Group One Dewhurst Stakes, writes Ned Tierney.
First across the line at Newmarket on Saturday, the chestnut’s display helped Bolger win the race for the fifth time in seven years. Following in the footsteps of his sire New Approach, Dawn Approach is put in a gutsy display and will now go into Winter quarters a warm favourite for next season’s 2000 Guineas.
Even before he set foot on a racecourse Dawn Approach was touted as being well above average. With six victories to his credit he remains unbeaten, but more importantly showed that if necessary he can battle should the need arise.
Stable companion Leitir Mor set the pace in this seven furlong contest and still held the call with a furlong to race. At this point there were worrying signs that the odds-on favourite was beginning to struggle, but once rider Kevin Manning got serious with him Dawn Approach responded well and shot clear with 150 yards to race on his way to a two and three-quarters length win over Leitir Mor, with the Aidan O’Brien runner George Vancouver back in third place.
In his post-race remarks Bolger revealed that he was never worried about the outcome as his charge has a lazy style of racing and falls asleep once he is settled in a race.
Having changed hands to Godolphin during the Summer many felt that the horse might well leave Bolger’s stable. However, he will remain with the trainer to be prepared for his three year old career. It will be remembered that New Approach, which was also purchased from Bolger by Godolphin and raced in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed’s wife Princess Haya of Jordan, stayed at Coolcullen and went on to record victories in the Epson Derby as well as the Irish and English Champion Stakes.
The Teofilo colt Trading Leather made it a day to remember for Bolger when he battled well to land the Group Three Autumn Stakes over a mile.
Thrown in at the deep end in a listed contest at Leopardstown on his debut, Trading Leather finished a very respectable third before easily winning a Gowran Park maiden which prompted Bolger to remark that this might well be his Derby horse.
That impression was upheld when Trading Leather answered every call for Kevin Manning to beat Richard Hannon’s Montiridge by three-parts of a length. With a tilt at the Racing Post Trophy possibly on the cards for the winner, Bolger intimated that the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial could be the horse’s early season target before the Epsom Classic.
Local trainers Margaret Mullins and Eoin Doyle were among the winners on the first day of the two-day meeting at Tramore on Friday, but the miracle was that racing could go ahead after a night of torrential rain.
The Oscar gelding Stormy Oscar gave the mother and son team of Margaret and Danny Mullins a perfect start to the day, scoring a narrow victory in the opening two mile maiden hurdle.
Having disappointed since winning his bumper Stormy Oscar was returning to maiden company after a few runs in handicap company. He made most of the opportunity, hitting the front at the top of the hill and battling well to hold on by a neck at the expense of Cool Kan.
No bad race
It was probably not the strongest maiden hurdle ever run, a point conceded by the winning handler, but she pointed out that there is no such thing as a bad race anymore. Mrs Mullins has no special plans for Stormy Oscar, but suggested that he could make a nice horse over the some of the tight tracks across the water.
On paper the two mile beginners chase looked a decent affair and it produced a good finish as the Eoin Doyle runner Days Ahead got the better of The Folks Choice by a neck. Having chased the leaders early on Days Ahead made a bad mistake around the halfway point but recovered well to lead on the run to the last fence but was all out to get home ahead of The Folks Choice.
A decent juvenile hurdler, the winner had a wind operation last year which seems to have been a good success. According to Doyle he is well handicapped on the level, but on this evidence he could have a future over the larger obstacles also.
This was the second leg of a double for rider Shay Barry, a success which was initiated when Ordinary Man ran out an impressive winner of the two mile and five handicap hurdle.
Something of a course specialist, the son of Saddlers Hall was winning for the third time at the venue. Although he raced wide for most of the journey in search of the better ground Ordinary Man had the race in safe keeping from a long way out - Barry could even afford the luxury of an odd peep over his shoulder before easing his mount down to land the spoils by eight lengths from Neighbourly.