PAT KEANE: How will you Approach 2000 Guineas favourite?

BIG DANGER: Toranado provides stiff opposition to Dawn Approach.

So, are you a player or a layer when it comes to Dawn Approach in this afternoon’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket?

Have no doubt about it, this will be a savage betting race on the exchanges. Those who want to have a major wager on Dawn Approach will be accommodated for literally any amount.

There will be no messing, no hassle, just a press of a button or a phone call and, as soon as first Classic of the season can be muttered, you will be on.

There will be thousands and thousands of sterling and euro lined up to lay Dawn Approach.

Many will take the view that he is perfectly beatable and a ridiculous price.

Our old friends, Ladbrokes, and indeed Boylesports, were at it this week, asking punters to come out to play at evens, when 11-8 was freely available.

Or, perhaps, they were telling punters not to come out to play, at least not with them, and to please go elsewhere.

I have long been a big fan of Dawn Approach and he certainly did us a few favours last season.

He is obviously the most likely winner, with all the word emerging from Jim Bolger’s more than positive.

This game, however, is all about value and, at least as far as I’m concerned, it has long evaporated when it comes to the son of New Approach.

He was a bit of a monster last season, winning all six of his starts and is a colt of real courage and determination.

But there are one or two reasons to be worried about him here.

The first is the level of opposition, headed by Richard Hannon’s Toronado, who looked a quality horse when scoring on his reappearance at Newmarket last month.

There are others who have a life as well and you just don’t know what the Ballydoyle inmates might produce.

The biggest worry for me, though, is the surface. I believe, given cut in the ground, that Dawn Approach would be almost impossible to beat.

He showed a distinct liking for such a surface last season, but it doesn’t look as if he is going to get it now.

At say 6-4 or less, on ground good or even better, one is inclined to be a layer. At bigger odds then watching the race for educational purposes seems the best course to take.

It isn’t often one feels the need to question a ride Pat Smullen has given a horse.

He nearly always keeps it simple, rarely gets into trouble through a contest and is powerful in a finish.

Must admit, however, that the old hair received a bit of a tearing after Smullen had got beaten a neck on Ghaamer in the concluding maiden at Gowran Park on Sunday.

Ghaamer looked all over a winner entering the final furlong, but with the pilot taking it just a trifle easy - essentially hands and heels - he was mugged on the line by Ger Lyons’ unconsidered newcomer, the 25-1 shot, Safe Home.

One irate punter, while doing his best to keep as much of a lid on it as possible, described Lyons as “a bit of an annoyance.’

Oh Jimmy, God bless your restraint. The same punter was on a horse called Bint Nayef at Dundalk last month.

Trained by Paul Deegan, Biny Nayef was a strong order throughout the day and went off the 7-4 favourite.

He beat everything, except a 14-1 shot called Keeping, trained by none other than the bold Mr Lyons.

The amazing National Hunt campaign Willie Mullins has just enjoyed is illustrated in no uncertain manner by the final statistics.

He won 193 races - an astonishing total - and prize money of €3.9m. He was almost €3m clear of second-placed Gordon Elliott.

The stranglehold he currently has on Irish racing was emphasised with those 13 winners at Punchestown, but also by the result of the Grade 1 hurdle for four-year-olds at the final stage of the festival last Saturday.

Mullins won it with Diakali, for a first prize of €49,600. But he took all the rest of the money as well, with his three other runners filling second, third and fourth places.

Thus, his final winnings on the race jumped to €73,600.

Mullins has a frightening array of talent and how he is going to fit them all in next season won’t half test his skills.

A couple of weeks ago here we made the case for Battle Of Marengo being the one to beat, at that stage, in the Epsom Derby on Saturday, June 1.

He made a solid start to the season in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown last month, when giving Sugar Boy 5lbs and a snug length and three parts beating.

The form book will always be king when it comes to finding winners and it was most encouraging to see Sugar Boy taking a Group 3 at Sandown last week.


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