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Dawn Approach heads stellar Queen Elizabeth II Stakes cast

17 Oct 2013

Dawn Approach, the brilliant QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner, is set face 11 rivals in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as Europe's top milers and a South African star get ready for their final showdown.

Dawn Approach (far side) pips Toronado in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June – can he hold off Toronado’s stable companion, Olympic Glory, on Saturday? Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Dawn Approach heads a stellar cast of 12 in the £1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Europe’s richest mile race, at Ascot on Saturday.

Race four on QIPCO British Champions Day promises to be a cracker with French star Maxios, the top class Olympic Glory, South African star Soft Falling Rain and the likes of dual Group 1 winner, Gordon Lord Byron, the rapidly improving Top Notch Tonto and one of last year’s best two-year-olds, Kingsbarns, in opposition.

Dawn Approach heads the market and the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner must have a big chance, but soft ground may not be ideal and his trainer has been at pains to point out that we won’t know how well he will handle it until after the race.

He has only been beaten three times in his career – in the Investec Derby when refusing to settle and not staying the mile and a half trip, when narrowly beaten by Toronado in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and when finishing fifth on his last start in the Prix Jacques Le Marois when he was found to be sick afterwards.

He loves a straight mile and he will surely prove a tough nut to crack.

French ace Maxios hacked up by five lengths in a Group 1 at Longchamp on his last start, hammering Olympic Glory, and has a strong chance.

He has been slowly improving and is clearly peaking now. He will surely make the frame at least.

Soft Falling Rain would have a huge chance on better ground, but the likelihood of a softer surface is concerning and though he’s tough and has only been beaten once (when not fully fit) in nine starts, the ground is just enough to put one off. His trainer is definitely concerned.

Elusive Kate, who was a solid third in this race last year and the fast improving Top Notch Tonto, who was supplemented for the race on Monday at a cost of £70,000, will both love cut in the ground, but they have a bit to find on form.

Gordon Lord Byron looked a star sprinter when romping to victory in the Betfred Sprint Cup, but is he as good over a mile? 

Kingsbarns represents Aidan O’Brien and after winning the Racing Post Trophy in an unbeaten two-year-old season, nothing has gone to plan this year.

He had a setback in the spring and only reappeared in the Irish Champion Stakes in September where he dropped out tamely. One can surely expect a better show on Saturday.

Olympic Glory, stablemate to Toronado, could be the one to give Dawn Approach the biggest fight, however.

Toronado trails 2-1 in his battles with Dawn Approach, but if Olympic Glory could beat him for the Hannon camp, they would surely add that to the score.

He got too far behind in Prix du Moulin when thrashed by Maxios last time and is much better on a straight track.

He had that at Deauville in August when he ran star French mare Moonlight Cloud to a short head in France’s biggest mile race and he will get a straight mile again on Saturday.

He worked brilliantly on Monday, will be in first time blinkers to wake him up on Saturday and must have a serious chance in a race that will set anyone’s pulse racing.

Imagine the scene…Dawn Approach commits for home two furlongs out, pursued by a host of star milers. Can he hold on?

All will soon be revealed and make sure you get along to Ascot if you can. Tickets will be available on the day.

To view the full list of declarations and race information, CLICK HERE