Dawn Approach storms to victory in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes on Dubai Champions Day in 2012 from stable companion Leitir Mor. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com
Dawn Approach, the brilliant, unbeaten European champion two-year-old of 2012, heads 72 entries released today for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, the opening race of the 2013 QIPCO British Champions Series which will be run for the 205th time at Newmarket on Saturday 4 May.
Dawn Approach landed the Coventry Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot and the Goffs Vincent O’Brien Stakes (Group 1) at The Curragh among his five victories prior to storming away with the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes (Group 1), the world’s highest-rated juvenile race, on Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket last October.
Racing fans will be eager to know how the Godolphin-owned colt is progressing after the winter and his trainer, Jim Bolger, offered a positive statement at the initial entry stage.
"I’ve been asked that question regularly over the last three weeks and I’ve now simplified the answer to one word – awesome,” said Co.Carlow-based Bolger.
The QIPCO 2000 Guineas carries a prize fund of £400,000, up from £350,000 last year, and Dawn Approach is one of 20 entries trained in Ireland.
Bolger has collected many of racing's biggest prizes in his illustrious career but the QIPCO 2000 Guineas has eluded him to this point, although Dawn Approach’s sire, New Approach, failed by a nose to hold off Henrythenavigator in 2008. This year, Dawn Approach heads no fewer than six entries from the Bolger stable.
They include Leitir Mor, who was Dawn Approach’s closest pursuer, at a respectful distance of two and three-quarter lengths, in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes; Trading Leather, another course winner having accounted for the Richard Hannon-trained Montiridge in the Autumn Stakes (Group 3) on Dubai Future Champions Day; and Loch Garman, who can boast a perfect two-from-two winning record after lifting a Group 1 contest at Saint-Cloud last November.
The trainer with the most entries is, unsurprisingly, Aidan O’Brien. He has landed this colt’s Classic on no less than six occasions in the last 15 years and his 11 candidates are headed by the highly-regarded Kingsbarns, who has yet to taste defeat and breezed to a smooth success in the Racing Post Trophy (Group 1) at Doncaster last October.
Another high-profile contender from O’Brien’s Ballydoyle base is the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes third and subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner (Grade 1) George Vancouver.
The unbeaten dual Group 1 winner, Reckless Abandon, trained by Clive Cox, and the Marco Botti-trained Moohaajim are two leading home-trained entries, while the formidable stable of Richard Hannon is not to be underestimated. He has already won the 2000 Guineas on three occasions, most recently in 1990 with Tirol.
Alongside Montiridge, most notable among Hannon’s six other possible runners is the unbeaten Champagne Stakes (Group 2) winner, Toronado, and Olympic Glory, who won all three of his starts after chasing home Dawn Approach in the Coventry, most notably the Jean-Luc Lagardere (Group 1) at Longchamp on his final start.
The French challenge for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas is led by the Didier Guillemin-trained Penny’s Picnic, whose five juvenile victories included the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte.
Pick of the other five potential cross-Channel raiders are Jean-Claude Rouget’s unbeaten son of Kentucky Dynamite, Mutin, and Style Vendome. The latter has not been seen since winning a Listed race last August, but hails from the stable of Nicolas Clement, who saddled French Fifteen to finish a neck second to Camelot in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas 12 months ago.