NEWMARKET, ENGLAND // Drop kick, place kick, field goal. Call it what you will but for much of the winter Dawn Approach was considered by many to be a shoo-in for the opening British Classic of the season.
Dawn Approach will line up in the English 2,000 Guineas here this afternoon still widely considered the most likely winner but any superiority he enjoys over his 12 rivals in the form book is merely reputation; he needs to deliver on his first start as a three year old.
And what a welcome tonic a victory would be for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who owns a 51 per cent stake in the unbeaten colt and is expected by Newmarket officials to be at the track on Saturday.
Last season, Sheikh Mohammed watched Frankie Dettori get the leg up in the 1,000 Guineas on Lyric Of Light, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni. For good measure, Mickael Barzalona rode Discourse.
Neither Barzalona, Al Zarooni nor Dettori will be in action here, although the latter hopes to watch the race at the course, but will not resume race riding from his worldwide ban for 16 days.
Al Zarooni's career lies in tatters after he was handed an eight-year ban from racing last week.
Barzalona, an English Derby and Dubai World Cup winner, is required at Goodwood.
Dawn Approach, trained by the Irishman Jim Bolger, is Godolphin's only runner at Newmarket on Saturday.
Dawn Approach has grown markedly over the winter and has been prepared at Bolger's facility in Ireland, which has a gallop that mimics the contours of the Rowley Mile here.
Dawn Approach was six from six in his juvenile season and his campaign culminated in an easy victory in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes here in October.
Since then Bolger has been in bullish form and was hopeful of another big run.
"I have been very happy with his preparation," he said. "I could not have wished for a smoother passage through the winter and into the spring. He is a very hardy horse and has a great constitution. He is great form at the moment and I expect him to be fine on good to firm ground.
"I am never confident but I am hopeful that he will run up to his very best form."
Bolger has never won the 2,000 Guineas, but the colt he bred may represent his best chance yet.
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