Things We Learned » Will Dawn Approach stay?

Will Dawn Approach stay?

Six points against:

1. He won the opening juvenile race of the 2012 turf flat season over five furlongs, not a normal springboard for a Derby winner.

2. He won the Coventry Stakes last year, a spawning ground for sprinters and milers and Guineas horses, not usually for middle-distance horses and Derby horses.

3. He is out of Hymn Of The Dawn, who never went beyond a mile in her racing career.

4. His dam’s only other winner to date, Comadoir, has gained his three wins to date over five, six and seven furlongs.

5. He wasn’t even entered in the Derby until last month’s supplementary entry stage, after Sheikh Mohammed had bought a 51% share in him.

6. He is a CC on Equinome. That indicates that he is a five-furlong to one-mile horse. Only 5% of CCs are better over distances in excess of a mile than they are over a mile or shorter.

Six points for:

1. He is by Derby winner New Approach, who is by Galileo.

2. He boasts stamina influences of the calibre of Pleasant Colony, Alydar and Sea-Bird in his pedigree.

3. Unlike his sire, he is a relaxed individual, bordering on lazy. He doesn’t expend any more energy than he has to at any point in his races, and that gives him every chance of getting home.

4. He certainly wasn’t stopping at the end of the Guineas. On the contrary, the further he went the stronger he got.

5. He oozes class, his raw ability could see him home over any distance.

6. His trainer has taken legitimate Derby contenders Trading Leather and Loch Garman out of the Derby in order to leave Dawn Approach as his sole representative.

French notes

It is difficult to have eyes everywhere these days but, while Just The Judge and Al Kazeem were pilfering the Group 1 prizes at The Curragh on Sunday, there were two Group 1 races going on in France.

Silasol and Maxios ran out good winners of the Pour Moi Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary and the Prix d’Ispahan respectively, but it may be that Alerite and Mandour are the horses to take away from the races from a betting perspective.

Alerite travelled well through the early stages of the fillies’ race, just behind the pace, and she moved up nicely to hit the front inside the final furlong. However, she seemed to want to go continually to her right once she did, and Ioritz Mendizabal appeared to have to concentrate his efforts on keeping his filly straight instead of riding her out, and that allowed Silasol up on her outside to get up and do her by a short head.

By Literato out of a Dream Well mare, Alerite seemed to improve for this step up to 10 furlongs and, on this evidence, she could improve further for another step up in trip.

Mandour was well back in the early stages of the nine-furlong Prix d’Ispahan but, while it never looked like he was going to catch Maxios or Planteur, he made notable and sustained progress from the two-furlong pole to finish third, nearest at finish.

Highly-regarded last season, the son of Smart Strike beat 2000 Guineas third and St James’ Palace Stakes runner-up Hermival over eight and a half furlongs on his debut this term but, out of Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera winner Mandesha, it is likely that he will be even better when he steps up in trip. He holds an entry in the Eclipse, and he will be of interest there, potentially at a decent price, if he does make the trip to Sandown.

Ruby decision

It can’t have been easy for Ruby Walsh to walk away from his job with Paul Nicholls. The severing of a relationship that works well is never easy and, while he hasn’t walked away from Kauto Star or Denman or Master Minded, he has walked away from a veritable pool of equine talent that includes high-class horses like Zarkandar and Silviniaco Conti and Al Ferof, who all probably have more to offer, and horses with the potential to be very good, like Rolling Aces and Unioniste and Rocky Creek and Far West. Nicholls may have relinquished his trainers’ championship to Nicky Henderson last season, but he still runs the second most successful yard in Britain by a long way.

Nevertheless, you can understand Ruby’s decision. As well as reducing his air miles and allowing him spend more time with his young family, his decision will also allow him spend more time with Willie Mullins, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Willie has been champion trainer in Ireland for the last six seasons now, but last season he scaled heights that no Irish National Hunt trainer had ever scaled before him. To put it into context, and by means of comparison, in the 2010/11 season, Willie had nine Grade 1 winners while Paul Nicholls had 10. In 2011/12, Willie had 13 Grade 1 winners while Paul Nicholls had eight. Last year, however, Mullins had 24 Grade 1 winners as against Nicholls’ four.

Three seasons ago, Ruby rode nine Grade 1 winners: six for Nicholls, three for Mullins. Two seasons ago, he rode 15 Grade 1 winners: six for Nicholls again, eight for Mullins (and one for Tony Martin). Last season, Ruby rode 20 Grade 1 winners: just three for Nicholls and no fewer than 17 for Mullins, including Thousand Stars in France and Blackstairmountain in Japan.

Also, Willie had five winners at Cheltenham in March and captured the Top Trainer title there. There is no doubting where the balance of power lies at present.

Magician disappears

It would have been a huge task for Magician to go and win the Epsom Derby today just seven days after putting up a huge performance to land the Irish 2000 Guineas. New Approach won the Derby after finishing second to Henrythenavigator in the Irish Guineas in 2008, but there were two weeks between the two races that year. Seven days between Classics really just isn’t long enough.

Magician is already an unusual Irish Guineas winner, given that he dropped down in trip after landing the Dee Stakes over 10 furlongs in what turned out to be his Guineas prep, but he is not unique in that regard. The peerless Sadler’s Wells dropped down in distance, after beating Secreto in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, to land the Irish 2000 Guineas in 1984.

The subsequent 14-time champion sire didn’t manage to win in three attempts over a mile and a half, but he excelled over 10 furlongs, adding the Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes to his Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial win over that trip. It may be a little premature to be putting Magician into the same sentence as Sadler’s Wells, but he is obviously a hugely exciting colt, and it may be that, like his grandsire, it is over 10 furlongs that he will excel.

Galileo v Montjeu

Speaking of Sadler’s Wells, two of his most illustrious sons continue to dominate the Derby.

Of course, Montjeu didn’t win the Epsom Derby, he was busy dancing around Chantilly in June 1999 and winning the French Derby instead, back in the day when the French Derby was run over the Derby distance. Galileo did though, famously, in 2001, a lone Ballydoyle ranger in the race, and beating High Chaparral by a year in landing a first Derby for his famous sire, thereby scratching that particular well-worn itch.

Remarkably, five of the last eight Epsom Derbies have been won by a son of Montjeu or a son of Galileo. Montjeu has had four Derby winners to date (from just 20 runners) while Galileo has had just one but, with five Galileo colts and only one Montjeu colt set to line up this afternoon, the gap could be narrowed, while their overall record could be enhanced.

Interestingly, with warm favourite Dawn Approach and Dante winner Libertarian both by Galileo’s Derby winning son New Approach, we could be getting into a whole new set of statistics from this afternoon.

© The Irish Field, 1st June 2013