DAWN APPROACH will have to account for 12 classy rivals if he is to secure Jim Bolger a debut triumph in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket tomorrow, with Ballydoyle's Cristoforo Colombo due to sport cheekpieces for a first time in the season's opening Classic.
In the last 10 years, the Coolcullen wizard has had just three runners in the mile Group One, two of which made the frame. New Approach, sire of tomorrow's 11/8 market leader, went closest when nosed out by Henrythenavigator five years ago.
Both New Approach and his unbeaten white-faced progeny are now owned by Sheikh Mohammed. Should Dawn Approach secure a third successive top-level win tomorrow, it would be a timely fillip for the Dubai prince following the Mahmood Al Zarooni doping scandal that has rocked his flagship Godolphin operation to its core.
With Dawn Approach the first horse in this part of the world not trained by Al Zarooni or Saeed Bin Suroor to sport the royal blue Godolphin silks, victory for Kevin Manning's mount might also be viewed as especially symbolic.
As the choice of champion jockey Joseph O'Brien, Cristoforo Colombo must be considered one of those most likely to deny the Sheikh a redemptive outcome. In a further parallel to 2008, Cristoforo Colombo – cut from 10/1 to 8/1 yesterday – is sired by Henrythenavigator.
Both equine father and son were outshone as juveniles by the 'Approachs'. In Henrythenavigator's case, the lack of precocity in his two-year-old campaign was attributed to a lack of fast ground – something which Joseph believes also held back Cristoforo Colombo when he was beaten in his final three completed starts as a juvenile last season.
The Newmarket going is set to ride fast, with the track being watered to keep it safe. "He has cheekpieces on as he can be lazy and they'll help him travel a bit sweeter," the 19-year-old said of the headgear that his father Aidan's charge will wear. "He has never had his ground and I think everything is right for him.
"The nicest ground he had was at Ascot (third in the Coventry) and he was only beaten a length by Dawn Approach. I can see him hopefully make up a little bit of that."
O'Brien confirmed that a lack of racing practice prompted him to overlook the once-raced Dundalk winner Mars, which Seamie Heffernan rides, though he suggested that both Mars and the Rosegreen stable's third runner George Vancouver will also be suited by the quick ground.
Bolger has also left Leitir Mor in the race as a potential pace-maker, with Ronan Whelan, who fulfilled that role so welll on the same horse when second to Dawn Approach in the Dewhurst Stakes in October, again booked to steer.
The Irish contingent is completed by 100/1 outsider Dont Bother Me, a first Classic runner for Sligo handler Niall Moran.
Successful in a Leopardstown maiden last year, Martin Harley's pacey partner earned the right to tilt at windmills when second to Fort Knox in the Guineas trial at the Foxrock venue last month.
Richard Hughes rides Richard Hannon's Toronado in the showpiece event, after the well-backed 9/4 shot maintained its 100pc record by hosing up in the Craven Stakes.
Paul Deegan, meanwhile, has revealed that his prolific six-year-old mare Midnight Soprano will be campaigned with a tilt at the Irish St Leger in mind when she returns.
The up-and-coming Curragh handler also reported that his recent Naas winner Talitha Kum will next tackle the 1,000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown on Sunday week.
• Willie Mullins' Simenon heads the weights for next Wednesday's Chester Cup after the defection of Overturn at the confirmation stage.
Simenon was a tremendous servant to Ireland's champion jumps trainer last year, winning the Queen Alexandra and Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting. Other Irish possibles include Dermot Weld's Olympiad, Justification from Aidan O'Brien's stable and the Gordon Elliott-trained Bondage.