Dawn Approach (nearside) beats Toronado in a tight finishPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Dawn Approach edges Toronado in photo-finish
Report, Royal Ascot, Tuesday
St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) 1m, 3yo
DAWN APPROACH banished memories of his Derby defeat as he put in a rock-solid battling performance to edge out Toronado in a fiendishly tight finish which lifted the roof off the packed Ascot stands.
The race had promised to be one of the highlights of the week and it did not disappoint as Dawn Approach, sent off the 5-4 favourite, got the verdict over Toronado by a short head after the pair had a tussle throughout the final two furlongs.
Toronado, who had finished eight lengths behind Dawn Approach when he ran away with the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, got a lot closer this time. Indeed, he appeared to get his head in front deep in the final furlong before Godolphin's colt battled back.
Prior to that, the pair had been among the worst sufferers when Glory Awaits drifted left but that failed to inconvenience the pair as they pulled two and three-quarter lengths clear of Mars, who like in the Derby, again found plenty of trouble in running.
Magician, sent off the 5-2 second favourite, was another who suffered in the scrimmaging when the pack closed in on front-runners Leitir Mor and Glory Awaits. He was eased when beaten and finished last of the nine.
The winner was the third of the afternoon for Irish trainers and justified Jim Bolger's decision to run Dawn Approach at Ascot after the Epsom debacle.
Bolger said: "You take chances, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Sheikh Mohammed was a very willing risk-taker.
"He's [Dawn Approach] very tough and hard, he was fortunate to survive the bump and the rest is history. I knew he wouldn't let me down."
Sheikh Mohammed added: "That proved to me he's the best miler in the world. The biggest risk of all is to take no risk."
Even though Toronado suffered an agonisingly close defeat, trainer Richard Hannon was happy to see him back to form. "He was unlucky. At least he's back. He's a very good horse, there's no doubt about it," he said.
"It's a shame there was interference, otherwise I think we'd have got it. We were knocked into the middle of the track, but it wasn't the winner's fault. But that's racing and we are not dead yet.
"I'm glad he's back to what we thought he was. We'll take him on again, but he'll have a break now."
Derrick Smith, part-owner of Mars, said of the third horse home: "Ryan [Moore] was very happy with him and so was I. He's had three quick runs now and is improving all the time."