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THE FAB FOUR

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Declaration of War ridden by Joseph O'Brien wins The Queen Anne Stakes. Picture credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Declaration of War ridden by Joseph O'Brien wins The Queen Anne Stakes. Picture credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Kevin J Manning riding Dawn Approach lands the St James's Palace Stakes. Picture credit: Charlie Crowhurst / GETTY IMAGES

Kevin J Manning riding Dawn Approach lands the St James's Palace Stakes. Picture credit: Charlie Crowhurst / GETTY IMAGES

War Command ridden by Seamie Heffernan  winning the Coventry Stakes. Picture credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

War Command ridden by Seamie Heffernan winning the Coventry Stakes. Picture credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Sole Power (left) ridden by Johnny Murtagh on the way to winning The King's Stand Stakes. Picture credit: John Walton/PA Wire

Sole Power (left) ridden by Johnny Murtagh on the way to winning The King's Stand Stakes. Picture credit: John Walton/PA Wire

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Declaration of War ridden by Joseph O'Brien wins The Queen Anne Stakes. Picture credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

ROYAL ASCOT week got off to an extraordinary start for Ireland yesterday when the first four winners at the prestigious meeting were all Irish-trained.

Added to that, the winner of the fifth race was trained in Gloucestershire by Cork native Jonjo O'Neill, owned by JP McManus and ridden by Fran Berry, whilst the winner of the last was steered home by jockey Johnny Murtagh.

The St James's Palace Stakes was billed as one of the races of the week and it certainly didn't disappoint as Jim Bolger's Dawn Approach justified the massive risk of his trainer to bounce right back to form and hold Richard Hannon's Toronado in a thriller.

Dawn Approach's Epsom Derby dream was over shortly after it began earlier in the month as the colt raced far too keenly and trailed home last, signalling the end of his unbeaten record.

Again yesterday, the characteristically relaxed Dawn Approach raced keener than expected back over a mile but proved the adage that class is permanent and form is temporary when toughing it out in the final furlong to never let Toronado get to the front and scoring by a shorthead.

Dawn Approach's owner Sheikh Mohammed was in little doubt that the colt he bought a 51pc share in after he won the Coventry Stakes at this meeting last year is "the best miler in the world", and few could argue with that following yesterday's brave performance.

Anxious

Bolger was visibly elated, maybe even more than ever, but the master of Coolcullen admitted that his staff had an encouraging say in Dawn Approach returning just 17 days after the Epsom disappointment. "I have to say I had a lot of encouragement from my staff to let him run again," said Bolger. "They were anxious to get back in to the fray.

"I sent a text to (Godolphin's racing manager) Simon Crisford, I told him he was in for a surprise and I think he read between the lines so that when I rang him the next day and told him I wanted to go to Ascot, he said he would talk to Sheikh Mohammed.

"That is the nature of the sport, you take chances and sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Sheikh Mohammed was a very willing risk taker and I'm delighted he did!

"I knew he (Dawn Approach) wouldn't let me down," Bolger added.

Future plans for Dawn Approach weren't revealed by the trainer afterwards as he simply said: "We'll play it by ear and at some stage we'll take some more chances."

Eddie Lynam's model of consistency Sole Power produced another career best when becoming the first Irish horse since 1987 to win the King's Stand Stakes providing Johnny Murtagh with the first leg of a double on the card.

Not since the legendary Vincent O'Brien sent out Bluebird has there been an Irish-trained winner of the opening day five-furling Group One, but Sole Power denied the South African Shea Shea to give Lynam his biggest winner as a trainer to date.

Shea Shea had twice beaten Sole Power in Dubai earlier in the year, but Murtagh angled the 8/1 shot from the back of the field to get a run and collar Mike De Kock's 11/4 favourite.

"He has always been very good, but not always been lucky," Lynam reflected. "He won a Nunthorpe, a Temple Stakes, a Scarbrough and a Palace House Stakes, and was a 100/1 winner of a Nunthorpe as a three-year-old. He's a proper one."

Aidan O'Brien also enjoyed a double on the card as Declaration Of War won the opening Queen Anne Stakes in which American raider Animal Kingdom failed to challenge despite confidence.

O'Brien completed his double when the outsider of his three runners in the Coventry Stakes War Command ran out an extremely impressive six-length winner under Seamie Heffernan, promoting him to next year's 2000 Guineas favourite with some firms.


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