Bolger bullish on Dawn chances in ‘Duel on the Downs’ with Toronado
O’Brien hopes Declaration plays spoilsport
“I’m hoping he’ll handle the track, but I’m optimistic he’ll handle it well.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Eagerly-anticipated and hyped “head-to-head” clashes have a disappointing habit of turning anti-climactic, but Dawn Approach versus Toronado has the potential to live up to its “Duel on the Downs” status at Goodwood today.
The Sussex Stakes has been an occasion for this scenario before, most recently when Frankel and Canford Cliffs faced off a couple of years ago and Frankel easily disposed of his below-par rival.
Also called upon as precedent for this race has been the 1981 Sussex when Vincent O’Brien’s Kings Lake edged out To Agori Mou in a clash that contained a lot more edge than today’s similar Anglo-Irish rivalry.
Four of the seven runners are from this country with Dawn Approach and Aidan O’Brien’s Declaration Of War having pacemakers as they attempt to become just the 11th Irish-trained winner of the Group One highlight.
Failing to stay
The role of spoilsport looks set up for Declaration Of War, the Queen Anne winner at Royal Ascot before failing to stay in the Eclipse and now back to a mile.
However, it’s hard not to get excited about the idea of another Dawn Approach-Toronado struggle considering their epic clash in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot where the home team were convinced they were worst affected by a bumping match in the straight.
“Both horses want a proper gallop but we know our fellow is straightforward in that we can ride him from the front or sit in,” said Toronado’s trainer Richard Hannon yesterday. “We think the track will suit.”
Jim Bolger issued a similarly bullish bulletin about Dawn Approach. “Two days after Ascot he was bucking and squealing. That’s the sort he is. He has a great mind and a great constitution,” said Bolger. “Since last week he’s rated the best horse in the world . . . I’m hoping he’ll handle the track, but I’m optimistic he’ll handle it well. I’d say he’s a hard horse to get past.”
Rain-softened ground won’t be an issue either for the Bolger star whose only defeat to date came in the Derby debacle.
As long as Dawn Approach doesn’t fight Kevin Manning in the early stages, he can make it a resounding 3-0 in terms of his rivalry with Toronado to date.