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Dawn hard to break


Kevin Manning riding Dawn Approach Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Kevin Manning riding Dawn Approach Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Kevin Manning riding Dawn Approach Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

FEW of us have ever, if ever, heard Jim Bolger speak as glowingly or as confidently about a horse's chance as he has regarding Dawn Approach, and Bolger is not one who would perch himself up on an unsteady pedestal.

"The best Derby trial takes place on my gallops," he informed the press recently and with the likes of Bolger's Loch Gorman and Trading Leather finishing within a length or so of Battle Of Marengo and Libertarian, it is easy to see how he would have a fair handle on the form.

Tomorrow, Aidan O'Brien will bid to win the Epsom Derby for a fourth time, Jim Bolger for a second, Andre Fabre also for a second time, while David Wachman will have just his second runner in the race after Fracas ran with great credit in 2005.

Elaine Burke's Libertarian is the only realistic British runner in the field with James Tate's Mirsaale and John Ryan's Ocean Applause both rank outsiders, while Germany will have their first runner in the race courtesy of the well-touted Chopin for trainer Andres Wohler.

Dawn Approach will be one of two (Libertarian the other) who will bid to emulate their sire New Approach by winning the race, while five of the 12 runners in the race are by the 2001 Derby winner Galileo, including O'Brien's first string Battle Of Marengo.

Incidentally, Galileo has already bred a Derby winner, that being in 2008 when New Approach won the race, while one of O'Brien's outsiders Festive Cheer would be a fifth Derby winner and third in a row for the sire Montjeu, while if Mirsaale was to provide a massive shock in the race, he would become the first colt by 2005 winner Sir Percy to oblige in the blue riband event.

For many, the question over this year's Derby is 'will Dawn Approach stay the trip or will he not?'

If he does, there are few who doubt that he bodes an awful lot more class and talent than anything in the field and it would take something drastic to go wrong to get him beaten, but if he doesn't get the 1m4f trip around the Epsom Downs, tomorrow's renewal suddenly becomes an awful lot more competitive.



The first-ever German runner has been a somewhat intriguing tale for this year's build-up, as has the involvement of Libertarian who won the Dante at York and represents husband and wife Elaine and Karl Burke.

But in truth, without Dawn Approach, this year's Derby would have been a pretty mediocre affair, well certainly the build-up to it would have been anyway.

The Jim Bolger-trained colt carries so much weight of expectation in one sense but also so many different angles.

There is the fact that Bolger came here in 2008 with New Approach and triumphed under a cloud of controversy, and now stands the sire who has made a terrific start to his career at stud.

We also have the Godolphin story which is continually being swept under the carpet, but there's a lot more sweeping to do yet as far as Mahmood Al Zarooni and the doping scandal is concerned.

Bolger is not embroiled in that, however, and instead he is concentrating on training the only horse in either England or Ireland who carries the Godolphin banner that is now not trained by Saeed Bin Suroor.

Of course, Bolger sold Dawn Approach after he won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, but reportedly only sold 51pc to Sheikh Mohammed and kept 49pc to himself – this was a horse he wasn't going to part with easily.

O'Brien ran six in this race in 2009 as he tried to topple Sea The Stars and tomorrow, Ballydoyle will have five representatives with Joseph O'Brien on the first string Battle Of Marengo, Ryan Moore on Ruler Of The World and Richard Hughes getting the nod over Frankie Dettori to partner Mars. Ruler Of The World has only run twice but is the only colt in the race who has won over tomorrow's trip of a mile and a half when he won the Chester Vase and that will be a big plus to him, but again, he wouldn't appear to be in the same league as Dawn Approach and it goes back to if he gets the trip, it's hard to see what horse will be able to challenge his unbeaten record.

From this corner, the belief is that it will be eight not out shortly after 4pm.