HOT on the heels of the retirement of Frankel and Black Caviar, there is every chance racing fans will have a new hero to worship after Dawn Approach extended his unbeaten run to seven with an emphatic five-length success in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
Even more exciting is the fact a possible assault on the Investec Derby at Epsom now looks increasingly likely.
He was supplemented for Epsom at the second entry stage and as long as Sheikh Mohammed gives Jim Bolger the nod, the chestnut colt will bid to emulate his sire, New Approach, who won the Derby in 2008.
The only slight disappointment to come from the race was that his expected battle with Richard Hannon’s Toronado never materialised as he faded into fourth.
The pair were side by side a couple of furlongs out, but the usually confident Richard Hughes became more urgent in the saddle and it was clear Toronado was struggling.
Kevin Manning and Dawn Approach were soon in an unstoppable position and it was 150-1 shot Glory Awaits who held on to second place from his isolated position in the centre of the track, with the Hannon pair of Van Der Neer and Toronado a respective third and fourth. Garswood, trained at Malton by Richard Fahey, finished back in seventh.
Bolger said: “I felt if he ran up to his best form, he would win the race, but I wasn’t prepared for what he did. I was very impressed.
“I don’t know about the Derby, Sheikh Mohammed and myself said we would sleep on it and take it from there.
“I’m sure he can only improve from here as that’s his first time on a racecourse this year.”
Ladbrokes are biggest of the firms as they offer 5-2 about Dawn Approach repeating Camelot’s double last year.
Manning, Bolger’s son-in-law, said: “He’s a very special horse, he’s done it very easy and travelled very well throughout the race. I didn’t want to get there too soon and when I asked him to quicken, he just picked up.
“He’s got a fantastic temperament, he was cruising here and he’s very easy to switch off in a race.
Hughes and Hannon might have been crestfallen after Toronado’s reverse, but all was forgotten 24 hours later when Sky Lantern claimed the Qipco 1000 Guineas.
The grey filly was a 9-1 shot to claim Classic glory having been beaten by the reopposing Hot Snap in the Nell Gwyn Stakes on her seasonal return.
Just The Judge looked likely to win when quickening up to lead heading inside the final furlong, but she was collared in the closing stages by Sky Lantern, who struck by half a length. Aidan O’Brien’s Moth was third.
It was a particularly sweet success for Hughes, who was securing his first domestic Classic triumph.
He said: “They didn’t go over -fast – it was all about giving her plenty of cover.
“She was tough to see it out to the line. My wife was so upset (after Toronado’s defeat) – I was consoling her all night – but today was great. I believed in this filly. I knew I gave her a bad ride the last day, but she’s a good filly and loves that fast ground. It’s thoroughly deserved.
“It’s taken a long time (to win a British Classic).”
Richard Hannon jnr, the Herridge handler’s son and assistant, said: “I’m delighted for Hughesie. He’s one of the best jockeys ever and I’m just delighted he’s done it on one of ours.”
Just The Judge’s owner Sheikh Fahad said: “Sky Lantern has had a run (this season) and we haven’t. She hasn’t come in her coat yet, so I’m still pretty confident we can change it around later in the season.”