Victory puts Ascot on Dawn's horizon
JIM Bolger's Dawn Approach booked his Royal Ascot ticket with a determined victory in yesterday's Alfred Nobel Rochestown Stakes at Naas.
The precocious youngster was the first son of the yard's Epsom Derby hero New Approach to grace the racecourse when he struck at the Curragh in late March. Bolger's colt comfortably followed up in a Naas conditions race and he took the step up to Listed class in his stride to remain unbeaten.
The Richard Hannon-trained Mister Marc proved a tough opponent, but Dawn Approach (4/9 favourite) asserted his superiority inside the final furlong to win by two and three-quarter lengths in the hands of Kevin Manning.
The David Wachman-trained Cougar Ridge, expected to be one of Dawn Approach's main rivals, was withdrawn after refusing to enter the stalls. Coral cut Dawn Approach to 11/4 favourite for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, although Bolger will also consider the longer Chesham Stakes.
"He'll go to Ascot for either the Coventry or the Chesham," said Bolger. "Kevin said they went five-furlong pace the whole way. It was a fierce gallop but he stuck at it well.
"Trip doesn't really matter to him. Like most horses he would like better ground. That was a little bit loose but he handled soft ground at the Curragh and he's fairly versatile ground-wise."
Hannon and jockey Richard Hughes went one better when Sky Lantern landed the Coolmore Stud EBF Sprint Stakes as the grey daughter of Red Clubs showed a willing attitude to see off the persistent challenge of True Verdict by half a length.
The trainer's son and assistant, Richard Hannon Jnr, said of the 11/8 favourite: "She's a lovely filly and crying out for seven furlongs. We'll enter her for the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and see what happens. I was very impressed with the way she did it. The second horse came to beat her and had lots of speed, but she stuck her head out well -- she's big and has lots of scope."
The Ger Lyons-trained One Spirit was rewarded for her good effort behind Emulous in a Group Three heat at the Curragh recently when winning the other Listed race on the card, the Owenstown Stud Stakes.
Having benefited from her first run for seven months nine days earlier, the 6/1 shot hit the front about a furlong out and stayed on well for Niall McCullagh. Gordon Lord Byron, which was chasing a hat-trick, had to settle for second place, a length behind the winner.
Lyons completed a double when Emmet McNamara drove 15/8 favourite Dark Passion home by a length and a half from Crimson Sunrise in the Paul Byrne Memorial Handicap.
I'm Sheikra pipped Reaching to make a winning debut in the opening fillies maiden under Rory Cleary. The Captain Rio filly, owned and trained by Brendan Duke, got up by a nose over Aidan O'Brien's 6/4 favourite.
Ken Condon's 5/1 favourite Bold Thady Quill landed the seven-furlong handicap, while the closing fillies' 10-furlong handicap went to Charlie Swan's Lady Bennett.
At Listowel, Colin Bowe was on the mark when his Glibin captured the John B Keane Mares Beginners Chase under Andrew McNamara. The seven-year-old daughter of Luso raced prominent throughout and came with her challenge before the second last, where Sugar Bullet crashed, hampering Gerdalia. The 13/8 favourite Jacksonslady threw down a strong challenge but Glibin pulled out more on the run-in to score by a length.
Declan Lavery continued his impressive start to the new jumps season as he recorded his fifth success of the campaign aboard the Brian Hamilton-trained Warne in the Listowel Race Directors Hunters Chase. Supported into 4/1 joint-favourite, Lavery rode with patience before closing to track the leaders at the fourth last fence and took up the running in the straight to beat Ballyhampshire Man by four lengths.
The opening mares maiden hurdle went to second favourite Missunited, trained by Michael Winters, which was give a fine front-running ride by Bryan Cooper to comfortably see off Top Madam.