This race has been eagerly anticipated since the Saint James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot when Dawn Approach just got the better of Toranado by a short head.
The anticipation goes back further to the spring and the Guineas when the clash first happened. They went off favourite and second favourite at Newmarket. Dawn Approach had come as champion two year old where his juvenile season had been beautifully crafted by his astute trainer Jim Bolger. Five wins including the Jersey, National and Dewhurst. A rock solid champion in expectation going into the first classic. Then Richard Hannon unleashed Toranado in the Craven. Real opposition had been thrown into the Guineas mix.
Come the big day and Toranado miscued while the Irish colt fluffed no lines. The anticipated match didn’t happen and a general sense of disappointment permeated across us all watching. Even though Dawn Approach was a super winner we were left deflated by the lack of battle in Toranado.
Come Royal Ascot and Hughie’s talking up his colt we were a little disbelieving. In the meantime huge doubts had been built up about Jim Bolger’s colt. It seemed ridiculous that in just seventeen days Dawn Approach who had run out of control at Epsom could revert to the mile, relax in the hands of Kevin Manning and then have enough speed to win. The Derby disaster had to be forgotten, as had the flat run of Toranado in the Guineas. No sense of anticipation really with both colts on a retrieval mission.
The real sense was more that neither would be capable of turning it around.
Toranado looked too wounded after Newmarket and the skepticism in us said the Craven was a flash in the pan. He had looked impressive against mediocre horses but on the big stage he was found out.
Then two furlongs out at Ascot and our levels of excitement ratcheted up. As Dawn Approach stretched Toranado was bearing down on him in full flight. In the last 100 yards it was still undecided. Toranado had suffered a bump at a crucial stage and slightly lost his stride. Dawn Approach prevailed, just. Richard Hughes was sure he lost the race because of that bump. Ascot roared a declaration of war between the two.
So now the rematch.
Did the bump do enough to stop Toranado gunning down Dawn Approach or was the Irish colt holding him. Had he enough in the tank to repel him if needed?
Anticipation and licking of lips at the thought of this is now eager in all our minds. Any skepticism we had is well buried not even in the back of our minds but dispelled completely from the body altogether.
It’s easy to forget but it’s not a match as five other colts line up. Leitir Mor and Reply are there to do a job. Set a fast pace, burn quick fractions. In the case of Leitir Mor his sacrifice will be for Dawn Approach while Reply will be there to set it up for Declaration Of War.
The Queen Anne winner came to Ballydolye with a tall reputation from Jean Claude Rouget. The weight of money behind him in the ring at Newbury for the Lockinge suggested that reputation would not be let down. He ran like Toranado in the Guineas failing to fire leaving that tall reputation in tatters.
Come the Queen Anne and a blow away performance in a time quicker than that run by Dawn Approach later in the day and a reputation restored to full glory. He had Gregorian was back in third with Trade Storm in fifth. He then went to the Eclipse where only Al Kazeem got the better of him.
Anticipation now includes three.
In cold analysis we can say the classic bunch are ordinary. Garswood raised the flag in the Lennox Stakes yesterday but on the whole they haven’t looked great. At a mile the two who do look top drawer are the two here. As for the four year old, reputation stands tall but with the American Animal Kingdom more interested in his stud career than racing that day we have got to wonder was it a weak Queen Anne.
The clock said not so while we will have a three year old battle royal we might find a real Declaration Of War.
Recommendation: Declaration Of War 5/1 win