London // Jim Bolger could not be happier with the form of Godolphin’s Dawn Approach in the lead-up to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Dawn Approach was declared among 11 others at Thursday’s final stage to Europe’s most valuable mile contest. All is in place at Bolger’s Coolcullen base in Ireland for Dawn Approach to produce one final hurrah on the track before he retires to stud.
Dawn Approach’s two battles this season with Toronado, at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, showed the chestnut colt in his best light, but he has been absent from the second half of Europe’s turf season.
The son of Princess Haya’s New Approach defeated Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad’s colt in the St James’s Palace Stakes, but lost in a showdown with Toronado in the Sussex Stakes.
Their head-to-head struggles may have affected both horses, as Toronado trailed in last in the International Stakes at York, in August, while Dawn Approach was only fifth to Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Jacques Le Marois and has not run in the intervening 68 days.
Dawn Approach was found to have mucus in his trachea on the day following his Deauville run, and Bolger has used the fitness programme he employed to prepare his charge for the successful run at the English 2,000 Guineas in May.
“Preparing him for this race was more or less like preparing him for Newmarket,” Bolger said.
“His regular exercise is 20 minutes walking, 15 minutes trotting and he then canters after that. In all, including the cool down, it takes an hour and a half. He did his final piece of work last Monday.
“He’s a little bit heavier and is showing more muscle. He’s more rounded. I am 100 per cent happy with his preparation.”
Dawn Approach had built up a reputation for laziness in his homework at Bolger’s stables but the trainer, 71, has noticed a change in the colt’s zest for training.
“Coming up to this race he hasn’t been as lazy as he has been in the past,” Bolger said. “He’s in a slightly different frame of mind. You might say he is more industrious.”
Dawn Approach spearheads a solid team for Godolphin on British Champions Day. Saeed bin Suroor will run Farhh in the Champion Stakes, alongside Hunter’s Light, the former Dubai World Cup favourite.
Mickael Barzalona rides Hunter’s Light while Farhh will be ridden by Silvestre de Sousa, who will also be in the saddle aboard Ahzeemah in the British Champions Long Distance Cup.
On the other side of the world, Long John and Guelph, Darley’s impressive Australian Guineas winners, are set to join Godolphin. Long John won the Caulfield Guineas on Saturday; Guelph won the Thousand Guineas on Wednesday.
“I’d say Guelph will race for Godolphin in Europe next year and both are ideal horses to send there,” Henry Plumptre, Darley Australia managing director, told the Racing Post.
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