Dawn Approach taking the lead in the 2012 Dewhurst Stakes - Photo Courtesy www.godolphin.com
Evening lays to rest Frankel’s triumphs, but the gift of new creation beckons on the threshold of Thoroughbred horse racing. The quiet stillness is a prelude to the rising light of juveniles graduating to embark on a journey of possible immortality. A new day of racing calls to those who dare. A cast of imposing three-year olds stand on the horizon waiting for…Dawn Approach.
Many pundits consider Dawn Approach the best of Europe’s deep two-year-old crop last year. Aspiring colts such as Reckless Abandon, Olympic Glory, and Kingsbarns presented themselves as undeniable forces in the division, but Dawn Approach, victorious in all six outings, reaps favoritism for 2013’s biggest prizes.
The blazing chestnut has quelled all foes over any conditions from good to yielding at the most competitive level. Dawn Approach showed potential from the start, breaking his maiden in a five furlong dash at the Curragh. He jumped out of the stalls during the break and was roughed up by opponents in the early running. However, the New Approach son settled into second through the early stages. Under Kevin Manning, Dawn Approach took the lead nearing the furlong pole to finish with a 1 ¾ length advantage over Canary Row.
The Jim Bolger trainee stretched out another furlong in his next race at Naas. Dawn Approach stumbled out of the gates before rushing up to compete for second with the esteemed Ballydoyle entrant, Parliament Square. He gave Manning an instant response when asked and he overtook the lead under a quarter mile out from the wire. The stout colt forged onward to trounce the five others by a 5 ½ length margin at the final post.
Next time out, Dawn Approach stepped up to listed class in Naas’ Alfred Nobel Rochestown Stakes. Again traveling six furlongs against five opponents, Dawn Approach went to the post as the 4-9 favorite. He jumped up at the break to race in second, putting pressure on the pacemaking Mister Mark. Dawn Approach was slow to provide Manning with a finishing kick, but overwhelmed the eventual runner-up Mister Mark under more encouragement to romp to the wire by an easy 2 ¾ lengths.
Following this effort, Bolger made the bold choice not to enter the colt in the Chesham Stakes on the final day of the Royal Ascot meet. A seven furlong listed race, the Chesham is known as one of Royal Ascot’s weakest races, restricted to juveniles with sires that have won going further than ten furlongs. Consequently, the competitors often tend to be late developers. Instead, Dawn Approach returned to the track just fifteen days after his last start to advance onward to the Group II Coventry Stakes. The move to enter Dawn Approach in the 22-horse race proved a wise decision for New Approach’s stud career: his son Tha’ir carried the Godolphin colors to a triumph in the Chesham.
Bettors sent Dawn Approach off at 7-2 as the second favorite behind the 3-1 shot Sir Prancealot in the Coventry Stakes. Dawn Approach hurried out of the gates, losing his footing and taking a stumble. As a result, he lost his pace-stalking position and had to settle midfield not far off the lead. Daylight opened for Dawn Approach as the race progressed and Manning had to convince his mount to make his bid for the lead. Dawn Approach eventually passed horses with his usual kick, but lost ground when he shied from the whip, drifting towards the grandstand. However, the chestnut colt passed the highly-regarded Olympic Glory and Coolmore’s auspicious Cristoforo Colombo near the wire to win by ¾ lengths.
Following the Coventry Stakes, Bolger sold majority interest of Dawn Approach to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s racing operation, Godolphin. Jim Bolger had already been instrumental to Darley’s acquisition of Galileo blood through the sale of Teofilo and New Approach. Bolger sold these two prospering sires under the agreement he would have the ability to send a certain number of his seventy broodmares to them free of charge. One of the resulting matings bestowed him with Dawn Approach.
A son of Galileo, New Approach passes to his progeny the rich blood of his brilliant ancestors. His already impressive stud career does his multi-classic winning sire proud with an unprecedented three Royal Ascot winners in his first crop of juveniles. However, there is more to New Approach’s kingly heritage than his sire Galileo – his dam, Park Express, took the Nassau Stakes and even defeated colts in the Irish Champion Stakes.
New Approach, himself a major Group I winner, took the Dewhurst as an unbeaten two-year-old, and won the Epsom Derby and Irish Champion Stakes at three. A strong second to Henrythenavigator in the 2,000 Guineas and the Irish 2,000 Guineas, New Approach closed his career in track record-breaking fashion by winning Newmarket’s Champion Stakes with a six length score.
Dawn Approach’s dam, Hymn of the Dawn, presents a unique pedigree with a great influence of Native Dancer. The usual blend of Hyperion blood, Nearco, and St Simon are key ingredients, as are Sundridge, and Mumtaz Begum (a daughter of Mumtaz Muhal). New Approach has proven a strong cross with Hymn of the Dawn – perhaps partially due to the fact that both descend from the Nearctic sire line. New Approach carries the exalted Northern Dancer line while Hymn of the Dawn is from the Icecapade line. Fascinatingly, both stallions are by Nearctic and out of Native Dancer mares.
A unique youngster by a flourishing Darley stallion, Dawn Approach seemed an ideal purchase for Sheikh Mohammed. This year, Godolphin has invested in the most promising juveniles by not only purchasing 51% of Dawn Approach, but also buying France’s top two-year-old Reckless Abandon and leasing him back to the original owners under the agreement that the undefeated colt will stand stud at Darley in 2014. Following Dawn Approach’s final start of the season, Sheikh Mohammed said, “We are very happy. I was impressed with him when he won his maiden and I thought he was a good horse.”
Dawn Approach, racing in Godolphin blue, follows a story line similar to his sire. The Bolger trained New Approach wore the colors of Her Royal Highness Princess Haya of Jordan after she bought him from Jim Bolger as a two-year old. His jockey was Kevin Manning, who has now piloted Dawn Approach in all his starts. The jockey said, “To ride any horse of this ability is exciting, but it is great to have ridden the father and now ride a horse as good as him. It’s fantastic to be a part of the dynasty.”
A main character of what is to become a grand dynastic tale, Dawn Approach takes the starring role in a show of his own, captivating audiences with his individual appearance and demeanor. Bolger said of his newest prodigy, “Dawn Approach is a different make to his sire. He’s more mature at this stage and he’s more rounded. He has a much better temperament.”
The quick-developing colt was originally pointed towards the Curragh’s Phoenix Stakes as his fifth career start – his first start carrying Godolphin’s royal blue. However, relentless rain that hampered Ireland’s 2012 racing season with heavy courses provoked Bolger to withdraw Dawn Approach and wait for the Vincent O’Brien Stakes. Nature continued to grant the colt only more bad luck at the Curragh - the track came up yielding for the Group I race officially registered as the National Stakes.
Despite the unfavorable conditions, Dawn Approach went to the post as the 2-5 bettors’ choice. The colt stumbled out of the second closest gate to the rail in this seven furlong test. As Ballydoyle’s rabbit The Flying Flag raced away from the field in useless anguish, Dawn Approach’s stablemate, Leitir Mor, played the role of a true rabbit and jockey Manning settled Dawn Approach comfortably into third in the middle of the track to get better ground. With a quarter mile to spare, Manning angled him out from the pack to make an attempt to overtake the leaders. Dawn Approach responded to Manning with his usual nonchalance, but eventually gave way to his rider to surge past his opponents, creating a 4 ¾ length deficit over Designs on Rome.
Just a couple of hours earlier, Encke, also bearing the Godolphin blue, denied Coolmore’s Camelot the English Triple Crown in a fitting St. Leger renewal. Dawn Approach’s romping score in the National Stakes concluded a stellar day for Godolphin, helping boost the stable’s season earnings to a total of £15 million at the end of the weekend.
Dawn Approach came out of the National Stakes in great condition, feeling fresh just two days after his easy performance. His connections looked to Newmarket’s Dewhurst Stakes as the ideal finale of his juvenile campaign. In preparation for this Group I, Dawn Approach and Leitir Mor traveled to Beechy Park, Bolger’s training facility. Beechy Park is just down the road from Bolger’s primary Ireland training center, Coolcullen. The conditioner regularly sends his charges to Beechy Park for their final works since its three types of grass strips closely resemble those of certain racecourses. The order of business on this Tuesday before the race was a five furlong move in partnership.
The ground came up as “good to soft” for a sparkling “Future Champions’ Day” at Newmarket. Reckless Abandon’s victory by a neck in the Middle Park Stakes no doubt heightened the excitement for the upcoming highlight. Bolger riding high with Trading Leather’s Autumn Stakes win and Godolphin’s own victory with Reckless Abandon, Dawn Approach entered the gates carrying the electric anticipation of future glories. The excitement was infectious – Dawn Approach got the nod against his five opponents from the wagering public at 3-10.
At the start of the seven furlong contest, the eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, George Vancouver, impeded on Dawn Approach. Dawn Approach positioned himself into third on the outside while Leitir Mor established the pace as a rabbit. However, Dawn Approach advanced into second as the pace hastened.
Hitting the two furlong pole, Manning angled his mount out and implored him for his best effort. Dawn Approach replied with an instant kick, demolishing the frontrunners’ advantage. He got on even terms with George Vancouver quickly, but seemed to dither for only a moment. However, Dawn Approach overtook his bay adversary to win drawing away from the second-placed Leitir Mor by 2 ¾ lengths. After the first/second place sweep, Bolger said, “I was never worried. He has a lazy style of racing. He takes a bit of hold leaving the stalls and then falls asleep and Kevin [Manning] had to wind him up. I feel he’s capable of ruling the roost next season and he’ll start off at a mile.”
Dawn Approach earned Bolger his fifth Dewhurst triumph in the past seven years. Bolger’s first three winners claimed the race in consecutive years: Teofilo (2006), New Approach (2007), and Intense Focus (2008). Parish Hall’s 2011 win and Dawn Approach’s victory provides the possibility of another Bolger reign over the Dewhurst.
Recently awarded the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt and rated as 2012's best juvenile colt by WTR, Dawn Approach rises to the top of Europe’s juvenile division for the blatant brilliance with which he has imprinted the racing public. The colt’s unassailable talent is his most admirable asset; he foils his opposition with such uncomplicated ease. Dawn Approach also remains unaffected by various misfortunes such as heavy ground and impeding horses. A positive implication of Dawn Approach’s future is his relaxed way of running. As Kevin Manning described, “He is developing all the time and is a fine big horse. He is very, very straightforward. You can drop him in or do anything you like with him because he has got a great cruising speed and he picks up. He ticks all the boxes.”