Dawn Approach (right) routed his rivals in authoritative fashionPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Dawn banishes darkness surrounding Godolphin
Report: Newmarket (Rowley Mile), Saturday
Qipco 2,000 Guineas Stakes (205th running) (British Champions Series) (Group 1) 1m, 3yo colts and fillies
APRIL was easily the darkest month in Godolphin's 21-year history but May brought some much-needed relief in the form of their all-conquering Dawn Approach, who routed his Guineas rivals and powered clear inside the final furlong to win by five lengths.
Dawn is the time darkness is banished and the shining light of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation rose high above his rivals, his supreme equine talent transending a sport previously cloaked in the biggest doping scandal in its history.
Yet racing has always been about the pursuit of unfeasible power, grace and class, and at Newmarket on Saturday Dawn Approach helped racing return to its very core.
In Jim Bolger's unbeaten colt that trifecta has been achieved in the most impressive fashion. The realisation his breathtaking talents have been converted from the age of two to three helping to lift a beleaguered sport.
As much as he achieved as a two-year-old, unbeaten in six starts culminating with back-to-back Group 1s in Ireland and England, the 2,000 Guineas truly was his coming-out party.
The bare form of the performance suggested he may even have improved, the visual nature of his commanding victory almost certainly confirming just that.
Glory Awaits, the unconsidered 150-1 outsider, set the early pace but raced away from his rivals. The rest of the field chose to follow Leitir Mor up the centre of the track, with the 11-8 favourite sat just behind his stablemate with his main rival Toronado upsides.
The others tracked the big two, but all eyes were fixed on the dueling duo. Side by side, they too watched each other, and as Kevin Manning began to get after Dawn Approach Richard Hughes made his move.
Confident of winning his first Classic in the build up, and with Dawn Approach expected to hit a flat spot, Hughes wanted to use his mount's acceleration to kick away at that precise point. Yet Toronado was not capable of creating any sort of gap, Dawn Approach sticking with him as the two bore down on the leaders.
Dawn Approach was always on top. He never appeared to hit the flat spot many clung to in the build-up. Instead he asserted. And much like last year, he asserted with style.
Inside the final furlong, and meeting the rising ground, he powered clear of his rivals. Going further and further away as Toronado began to wilt. Unable to get to longtime leader Glory Awaits, Toronado was eventually pipped for third close home by stablemate Van Der Neer.
Kevin Ryan was thrilled with the run of Glory Awaits, who produced easily his best race to date in first-time blinkers to chase home Dawn Approach.
Jim Bolger: could target the DerbyPICTURE: Mark Cranham
His sole win came in a seven-furlong maiden at Haydock last June, and having failed to stay a longer trip in the Feilden Stakes last month, and Ryan said: "We were hoping for a good run and the blinkers helped as they didn't light him up. He didn't stay last time here in the Feilden Stakes and we may now look at Royal Ascot for either the Jersey or the St James's Palace Stakes."
With the placed horses returning at 150-1 and 20-1 they may be used to try and crab just what Dawn Approach achieved. Yet Toronado, the great danger in the build-up - so impressive in the Craven over course and distance two weeks ago and at one point threatening for favouritism - had the exact same run through the race as the winner. Clearly a very good horse, he was blown out of the water by a horse who took the opportunity to erase the word potential from his status as a superstar of the sport.
"Hughesie said Toronado felt out on his feet going into the stalls," said assistant trainer Richard Hannon jnr. "We'll have him checked over after that but perhaps he wasn't good enough. Full marks to Dawn Approach and Jim Bolger, he looks the business."
On Van Der Neer he added: "He ran a great race and was staying on well at the finish. It's the Dante Stakes for him and then perhaps the Derby."
The Derby could be Dawn Approach's next big assignment. Bolger said: "He was very impressive. Sheikh Mohammed agreed we would sleep on it and talk about it in a few days but we wouldn't be ruling anything in or anything out. I would be very happy to go [to the Derby] but we have to see how he comes out of this. He's hardy and I'm sure he'll come out of it well."
William Hill reacted by going 7-4 (from 9), while Paddy Power went the same price (from 10). Both BetVictor (from 9) and Ladbrokes (from 12) went 2-1.
In the year the sport no longer has Frankel to rely upon to sell out racecourses and garner all the right sort of press coverage, Bolger's brilliant son of New Approach will carry a great deal of added pressure this season, particularly given connections. But he looks more than capable of carrying the racing world, just as he carried all before him on the Rowley Mile.