Dewhurst Stakes Tips & Preview

The Dewhurst Stakes (2.55pm, Saturday), run over seven furlongs on the Rowley Mile course at Newmarket, is the most prestigious two-year-old race run in the UK. This year’s renewal of the Group 1 event has attracted just six runners, but still promises to be a fascinating contest.

Irish trainer Jim Bolger has a tremendous record in the Dewhurst Stakes, winning with Teofilo in 2006, New Approach in 2007, Intense Focus in 2008 and Parish Hall last year. This year he saddles two runners, Dawn Approach (2/5 favourite), due to be ridden by stable jockey Kevin Manning, and Leitir Mor (20/1), with promising stable apprentice Ronan Whelan aboard.

Dawn Approach is unbeaten in five career starts and is, in fact, the only previous Group 1 winner in the field. The son of New Approach easily won the Vincent O’Brien Stakes at the Curragh last month and is as short as 4/1, in a place, in next year’s 2,000 Guineas betting. The Curragh form entitles him to beat Leitir Mor, who finished nine lengths behind him in third, and his earlier form also stands close inspection.

In the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, Dawn Approach beat Olympic Glory by three-quarters of a length, with Sir Prancealot a further 2¾ lengths away in fourth. Olympic Glory is unbeaten in three starts since, including the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longhamp last weekend and Sir Prancealot has since won the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at the Doncaster St. Leger Festival last month.

He’s won on good to yielding and yielding going and looks to have an outstanding chance. However, that fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by the bookmakers, who aren’t giving much away at odds of around 2/5.

John Gosden’s Dansili colt Ashdan is also unbeaten and should ensure that Dawn Approach doesn’t have things entirely his own way. He didn’t make his racecourse debut until August, when a ready winner of a seven-furlong maiden on the July Course here. He beat five previous winners when following up in a small conditions race at Doncaster last month. If taken at face value, his form is nowhere near that of Dawn Approach, but he is still open to any amount of improvement and, presumably, his powerful connections wouldn’t be running here unless they thought he had a chance.

Co.Tipperary trainer Aidan O’Brien won the Dewhurst Stakes as recently as 2009, with Beethoven, and this year saddles two runners, George Vancouver (12/1) and The Ferryman (16/1). George Vancouver was beaten just three-quarters of a length by Clive Cox’s unbeaten colt Reckless Abandon in the Group 1 Prix Morny, over six furlongs at Deauville in August, but finished 4¼ lengths behind Leitir Mor in the Tower Stakes, over the same trip, at the Curragh last month.

Being by 2,000 Guineas winner Henrythenavigator, George Vancouver may improve for the step up to seven furlongs and looks worth a chance to prove that his Curragh running was all wrong. He’d have to improve to trouble Dawn Approach, but he could be the one for an each-way bet at odds of 11/1.

The Ferryman has raced just twice, finishing second to his stablemate Mars in a seven-furlong maiden on the Polytrack at Dundalk in July and beating Leitir Mor 3¼ lengths when winning a similar race over 7½ furlongs at Tipperary later the same month. He’s been off the course since, but while it would be easy to dismiss him as the stable’s second string, Aidan O’Brien has booked Ryan Moore, who has a 27% strike rate on his two-year-olds over the last five seasons. He’s another who needs to improve to trouble Dawn Approach, but he shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

Charles Hills’ Funk Soul Brother (66/1) has 14 lengths to find with Dawn Approach on their running at Royal Ascot and finished last of eight in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury on his only subsequent start in September. His current huge odds seem to accurately reflect his chance and he’s presumably been entered by his trainer because he collects just over £4,000 in prize money even if he finishes last.

Dewhurst Betting Tips Verdict

Dawn Approach is going to be a tough nut to crack and his form has taken several boosts. However that is factored into a prohibitive price at 2/5.

The most interesting alternative tip is Ashdan, who is on a steep upward curve and hails from a yard who know what it takes to win a race like this.

  • Bet on John Gosden’s ASHDAN to upset the favourite. He is currently best-priced at 9/2 with Ladbrokes.