The Sussex Stakes rarely gets a double figure fields these days and its the same story tomorrow with just 7 set to go to post. It’s still a pretty decent race though and provides us with the third meeting between Dawn Approach and Toronado, with the score 2-0 to the former.
Dawn Approach is clearly a high class colt. His short head defeat of Toronado in the St James Palace Stakes was his 4th group 1 victory. What he doesn’t appear to be is a superstar though. Yes he has plenty of guts and battles well, but he doesn’t have the turn of foot many top horses have, and is very beatable. After throwing his chance away at Epsom by pulling too hard he was again quite free at Ascot, and there would now have to be a slight concern that he’s going the wrong way. His pacemaker might try go a bit faster here but unless he sits 2nd to him that won’t do much good if the others ignore the pacemaker, and they might. When the favourite has an obvious potential flaw it would be remiss of the others not to try exploit it. Another problem here is Dawn Approach is taking on older horses for the first time, and while last years 3 year old milers were a shocking bunch, and himself and Toronado seem a good bit better than that, they are far from vintage. Glory Awaits was 2nd in the Guineas, while Mars who looks pretty ordinary was less than 3l behind them at Ascot after suffering a troubled passage.
Toronado was a little unlucky not to beat Dawn Approach at Ascot. He was held up at the back of the field and was coming into it smoothly when he got badly hampered just over 2 furlongs down, Dawn Approach also suffered in that melee, but I though it cost Toronado more ground, and also crucially it forced Hughes to take him off the bridle sooner than he would have wanted. The result was a drawn out battle with Dawn Approach and that suited the winner as he is a strong galloper. I’d be pretty confident that without interference Hughes would have waited for longer before committing, and beaten Dawn Approach for speed. If he can give Toronado a ride similar to what he gave The Fugue at Goodwood last year I think he can gain his revenge. The more of a test of speed the race is, the more it will suit him, if Hughes tries kicking to soon, then Dawn Approach will likely beat him again. Hughes rides Goodwood better than anyone, and while I think he should be favourite, I think both the 3 year old’s are too short.
Declaration of War put his Lockinge flop behind him to prove the money that came for him that day wasn’t misplaced, when he won the Queen Ann at Ascot. That was a poor renewal of that particular race, but he was quite impressive the way he traveled and quickened when he got a gap. Last time out he came 2nd to Al Kazeem in the Eclipse, and while he was only beaten 2l he never really looked like winning, and may not have got second if the 3rd wasn’t hampered. That’s still good form though, and while a line through one horse is a pretty simplistic method of evaluating form, the fact he had Mars 1 3/4L behind him, suggests there’s very little between him and the two 3 year old’s. Mars was slightly further behind them, but that was over a mile which is unlikely to be his best trip, and he also got the run of the race in the Eclipse, when he was up with a steady pace early, were as at Ascot he was blocked in his run at a crucial stage.
Gregorian was less than 2l behind Declaration of War at Ascot but that is as good as he is and the winner looked better than the bare result that day. You could argue 33/1 is still a little big for Gregorian here, but it would be more for the place part of the bet. The same applies to Trade Storm, he probably isn’t quite good enough to win, but his form isn’t far enough behind the two favorites to make him a 40/1 shot. Leitir Mor and Reply are here as pacemakers, and as such are big prices, perhaps to big, as if Manning tries to drop in to get Dawn Approach settled, and Hughes plays a waiting game and to try do him for speed, then the pacemakers might be given to much rope.
The two 3 year olds are probably entitled to be the first two in the market, although I’d have Toronado as the most likely winner, I don’t think he’s a good price though. Official ratings have Dawn Approach only 3lb higher than Declaration of War, and it would be hard to disagree with that assessment. I don’t think that entitles one to be 11/10 with the other 5/1, especially when Declaration Of War looks much more straight forward and should have no problem with the ground if we get more rain. Have the bet with