Dawn Approach ensures continued Irish dominance
JIM Bolger's Dawn Approach maintained the recent dominance of Irish juveniles as he was crowned the champion two-year-old on the European Thoroughbred Rankings.
Unbeaten in six races, including the National Stakes and Dewhurst, the Godolphin-owned son of New Approach received a respectable rating of 124 but was upwards of 6lb ahead of his peers.
Garry O'Gorman, the senior Irish handicapper who is part of the ratings process, said: "Dawn Approach is the seventh Irish-trained champion or joint-champion in the last eight years, which we're obviously pleased about, but it was not a vintage bunch of two-year-olds."
Below Dawn Approach is Aidan O'Brien's Kingsbarns (118), who took the Racing Post Trophy on his second start and is ante-post Investec Derby favourite and just behind Bolger's colt in the betting for the 2000 Guineas.
Richard Hannon's Olympic Glory and the Clive Cox-trained Middle Park winner Reckless Abandon were the highest-rated British juveniles among a bunch on 117.
Matthew Tester, the British Horseracing Authority's two-year-old handicapper, slightly disagreed with O'Gorman when he said: "It is quite difficult to establish outstanding credentials.
"Olympic Glory's only defeat came to Dawn Approach in the Coventry Stakes, and I think it's actually a very exciting crop of largely unbeaten horses so I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.
"I don't think Dawn Approach will be 6lb higher than the rest at the end of this year.
"At Doncaster I thought Kingsbarns looked quite a raw horse, whereas before the Dewhurst, to my eyes Dawn Approach looked like a three-year-old. He looked bigger and stronger than the rest.
"He will either emulate his father New Approach, or the others will catch up.
"It will be exciting either way."
If the crop of two-year-olds divide opinion, at least the thoughts on the World Thoroughbred Rankings for the three-year-old division were unanimous among the handicappers.
I'll Have Another, the American colt, was the highest-rated in the world on 125, ahead of the highest European horse, Camelot, on 124.
O'Brien's colt landed the 2000 Guineas and Derby but failed to complete the English Triple Crown in the St Leger.
The BHA's senior handicapper Phil Smith said: "One hundred and twenty-four for a European three-year-old champion is disappointing, but they were from an equally dismal two-year-old crop."
His colleague, Dominic Gardiner-Hill, said: "The 119 Camelot achieved in the 2000 Guineas makes him the worst European champion three-year-old miler ever, while Mince on 113 is the lowest champion three-year-old sprinter ever."
Camelot is still held in huge regard by O'Brien, and O'Gorman said: "We go with what we see on a racecourse, Aidan goes with what he sees on the gallops at Ballydoyle.
"I'm not saying Aidan is telling an untruth, but Camelot has yet to show on a racecourse enough to qualify for a rating to put him in the stratosphere.
"Personally, I don't think he was the same horse after the Irish Derby."
The handicappers offered some horses to follow for the season, with Tester believing Olympic Glory and Charlie Hills' unbeaten filly Just The Judge have the potential to make classy three-year-olds.
Smith and Gardiner-Hill are both interested in Roger Varian's lightly-raced Aljamaaheer as a four-year-old.