Like Sir Henry Cecil, Jim Bolger has undergone a sharp revival of fortunes in recent years and no other race typifies his resurgence greater than Newmarket's Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, which Dawn Approach will tackle on Saturday's Dubai Future Champions Day in a bid to provide his Coolcullen stable with a fifth renewal in seven years.
Unbeaten in five starts so far, Dawn Approach is more in the mold of Teofilo and his own sire, New Approach, who provided back-to-back successes for their trainer in 2006 and 2007, than the surprise 2008 and 2011 winners Intense Focus and Parish Hall. Race-hardened in his native Ireland, the Godolphin chestnut put that experience to use when winning a talent-stacked edition of the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 19 and looked as if the subsequent break had only strengthened him in the Group 1 Vincent O'Brien National Stakes in his first try at this trip at The Curragh on September 15.
"Dawn Approach has a great temperament and showed us almost from the word go," Bolger said. "His five races don't seem to have taken anything out of him and we've had absolutely no problems with him. Just watching him, you could see this fellow had something -- he has a terrific action. He is able to quicken up when the need arises in his races and loves his racing. He's right up there, ability-wise, with New Approach but he may not stay as well as he did."
Another Dewhurst contender is the similarly unbeaten but far less-accomplished Juddmonte representative Ashdan, who went two-for-two in the "Frankel" conditions event over this distance at Doncaster on September 14. While that form is removed from the Dawn Approach standard, the Dansili homebred had the smart No Jet Lag back in second, and the fourth Ninjago has since boosted the form with an easy win.
Rider William Buick is hopeful of a bold show despite his mount's lack of seasoning.
"He's a nice horse who will improve and be better next year," Buick said. "Dawn Approach is a tough nut to crack, but we'll try, and Ashdan will go there in good form and we'll see what we can do."
Aidan O'Brien has a duo that should not be underestimated in George Vancouver and The Ferryman. The former, a son of Henrythenavigator, was a strong-finishing runner-up to Group 1 Middle Park protagonist Reckless Abandon in the Group 1 Prix Morny over six furlongs at Deauville on August 19 before flopping when only sixth behind the re-opposing Leitir Mor in the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes over that trip at The Curragh last out on September 9.
"George Vancouver ran a bit keen the last day in quite soft ground -- they went very slow on the day and it didn't suit him," jockey Joseph O'Brien told PA Sport. "He ran well in France the time before, so hopefully he can put that last run behind him and run a nice race on Saturday."
Clive Cox's star juvenile Reckless Abandon is looking to extend his unbeaten record to five in the Group 1, £150,000 Middle Park. The son of Exchange Rate made a winning debut at Doncaster on May 19 before taking the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes by three-quarters of a length at Royal Ascot on June 21. Reckless Abandon continued to impress with a comfortable front-running success in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte on July 22, before making all the running to land the six-furlong Prix Morny by three-quarters of a length at Deauville on August 19.
The unbeaten bay will once again clash with Moohaajim, trained by Marco Botti, who landed the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes impressively last month after finishing just a little over two lengths behind Reckless Abandon when fifth in the Prix Morny.
"I have been very happy with Reckless Abandon since he won the Morny at Deauville," said Cox, who is based in Lambourn, England. "He has had a nice healthy gap between then and now and I'm happy that he is in really good order.
"It has been a fantastic season so far and I am very pleased with the progress he has made but I just hope we don't get too much rain at Newmarket -- that's my only concern. He has continued to strengthen and develop as you would expect from any two-year-old, but very clearly in the right direction.
"I hope The Dip won't be a problem to him as he is very well balanced," Cox added. "It is the first time he will encounter anything like that on the track so we don't honestly know, but he handles and manages himself very well. I hope we can confirm the form with Moohaajim."
The prestigious six-furlong contest also includes Kevin Ryan's unbeaten Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes winner Blaine as well as Aidan O'Brien's Group 2 Coventry Stakes third Cristoforo Colombo, who will be partnered by Ryan Moore.
Runner-up in the Group 2 Railway Stakes at The Curragh 11 days after that Royal Ascot test, Cristoforo Colombo clipped heels and went down in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes back at Kildare last out on August 12. Reportedly injured in transit ahead of his scheduled next start in the National Stakes at The Curragh on September 15, he could benefit from an upturn in fortunes here.
The Newmarket action will get underway in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes, sending runners the specialist-trip of seven furlongs. The contest features some proven types at that trip, headed by the admirable Libranno.
Four of the Librettist colt's six pattern-race successes have come at the distance and his latest, in the Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster on September 15, was a career-best from the hardy four-year-old.
"He has been a star for us, but we pulled him out of Ascot last week when it came up very soft, so it was good to hear that they had only 3mm of rain at Newmarket last night and the ground should be okay," trainer Richard Hannon said.
Of the more unexposed types, Fencing remains of interest, having shown smart form at two when third in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a mile at Doncaster, and he was badly hampered when off the board in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last out on June 19. Another is Pearl Mix, who returned from a lengthy absence to win a decent mile conditions event over Kempton's Polytrack on September 20.
Bolger could be in for another afternoon to remember, with Scintillula backing up Dawn Approach's Dewhurst challenge with her own assault on the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes.
Runner-up in The Curragh's Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes over this trip last time on September 9, the Galileo filly her trainer owns in partnership with Kirsten Rausing had modest form going into that race, but had proven group performers Harasiya and Magical Dream behind on that day, and normal improvement should see her break her maiden here.
Stepping up in trip is Poilin Good's homebred Melody of Love, who looked to need an extra panel when annexing the six-furlong, Group 3 Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr last out on September 22. The Haafhd lass carries the hopes of the small stable of Ann Duffield.
Future Champions' Day could turn into a Bolger affair if all goes to plan and his homebred colt Trading Leather can live up to his initial promise in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes in the penultimate race on the program. Runner-up to the subsequent Group 2 Beresford Stakes hero Battle of Marengo in Leopardstown's listed Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial going a mile in his racecourse bow on September 8, the son of Teofilo made all to score by an authoritative seven-length margin just 15 days later at Gowran Park, and his conditioner sees him as a live classic prospect for 2013.
"His last run was very good and he came out of the race well," Bolger said. "I'd be hoping he will give a good account and maybe fit himself up for the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy. I'm viewing him at the moment as a Derby horse, so, hopefully, things will work out, and my assessment of him is correct. He has more furnishing to do and it's only in the last couple of weeks that he has stepped up to where he is now, so I'd imagine there is a good bit of improvement to come."
Another fascinating Irish challenger is Michael O'Flynn's Galileo Rock, who also scored by seven lengths in his sole outing over this trip at Leopardstown on August 16.
"Hopefully, they don't get too much rain as a bit of reasonable ground is important to a horse like him," trainer David Wachman told PA Sport. "He's going to be quite raw and green going there off the back of just one run, but we'll see what happens."
Another debut maiden winner thrown in at the deep end is John Grant's Glenard, who looked highly promising when scoring over this distance at Doncaster on September 13 and has been part-purchased by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing in the interim.
"He has come out of his race at Doncaster well and did a nice piece of work the other morning," trainer Charles Hills said. "The plan was always to go for this race after Doncaster -- he's a big horse and we have been going steady with him as a two-year-old. He should stay well and next season will really be his year."