Weblog: Approaching bloodstock from outside the box
Dawn Approach: his dam Hymn Of The Dawn has uninspiring form figuresPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Guineas hero has stats to overcome at Epsom
WHEN unbeaten 2,000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach walks into the Epsom starting stalls on June 1 at around 4pm he will have a big task ahead. Not only does he need to beat the rest of the field, he will also need to beat a collection of statistics that say he will not win the Derby.
First of all there is the sheer fact that Dawn Approach is a 2,000 Guineas winner. Since 2009 two Guineas winners went on to win the Derby and this may suggest that the 2,000 Guineas is a successful Derby trial.
You'd almost forget that when Guineas winner Sea the Stars won the Derby, it had been 20 years since a horse had completed the same double. (Nashwan in 1989). In the last 25 years, 12 horses have tried to do the same and only three succeeded. Guineas winners such as Refuse To Bend, Golan, Entrepreneur, Pennekamp and Rodrigo De Triano all started as the favourite at Epsom yet failed to deliver.
Dawn Approach may well start as the favourite too and the history books say he has only a 25 per cent chance.
Then there is Dawn Approach himself. Although it is hard to argue with the fact that both Dawn Approach's sire (New Approach) and grandsire (Galileo) won the Derby, it seems there is a lack of stamina and class in the bottom half of his pedigree.
His dam Hymn Of The Dawn ran five times and her form reads "48990". In addition to the fact that she wasn't a winner, she is by Phone Trick. Himself a sprinter, he predominantly sired sprinters. In fact, he hasn't produced any noteworthy winners that have won over distances beyond a mile. Hymn Of The Dawn has produced one other winner, Comadoir. He won his three races over five, six and seven furlongs.
What most Derby winners have in common are dams who are either classy black-type performers or represent a strong influence of stamina. If we take the last five renewals of the Derby we consistently see either stamina, class or a combination of both on the dam side.
Starting with Camelot, his dam Tarfah won five of her eight starts including the Group 3 Dahlia Stakes over 1m1f. Combine that with middle-distance champion Montjeu and you end up with a perfect Derby pedigree.
Before Camelot we had Pour Moi. Also by Montjeu, he is out of the unraced Darshaan mare Gwynn (an influence for stamina). Prior to Pour Moi, Gwynn had already produced Irish Oaks third Gagnoa. A recipe for stamina here too then.
A year earlier it was Workforce. Like Pour Moi out of an unraced mare, Workforce is out of the Sadler's Wells (influence for stamina) mare Soviet Moon. She is a sister to St Leger winner Brian Boru. Here too, was a good reason to believe the Derby distance would not pose a problem.
Before Workforce it was the great Sea The Stars. Although there were some stamina questions because of his sire (miler Cape Cross), his dam was Arc winner Urban Sea, who had already produced Derby winner Galileo.
Once more a year earlier and we come to New Approach (Dawn Approach's sire). By Derby winner Galileo, New Approach is out of Irish Champion Stakes winner Park Express, a combination that also suggested the Derby distance would not be a problem.
If that's not enough, all three winners of the Guineas-Derby double in the last 25 years were out of Group-winning mares.
Dawn Approach will have to overcome the fact that his dam is neither a winner nor a real influence for stamina. He might win based on the fact that he possesses so much class himself and because he can settle well enough in the race to save fuel for the home straight, but until then he needs to prove that statistics are about the past and not necessarily the future. I hope he will.