Approach Epsom Favourite With Caution

Newmarket Races

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Horse Telescope looks like good value and is worth a cheeky bet.

Bookmakers have been quick to promote 2013 English 2,000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach to the head of this year’s English Derby betting markets but punters should exercise caution given the unbeaten Godolphin horse’s pedigree.

Dawn Approach’s trainer, Jim Bolger, and the Godolphin team have confirmed that the three-year-old son of 2009 English Derby winner New Approach will be aimed towards the Epsom event after taking the first English Classic of the season by five lengths on a good-to-firm Newmarket track.

While bookmakers are quite within their rights to have Dawn Approach as the 2013 English Derby favourite, one should take issue even with the best odds of around 7-4. There is a world of difference between the pedigrees of Dawn Approach and his famous father, with the family tree of this year’s champion colt suggesting that he will struggle to stay the 12-furlong trip of the most famous English flat race.

According to the dosage index, which is as good as any guide to the stamina capabilities of thoroughbreds, Dawn Approach does not fit the profile of the average English Derby winner, with its score being higher – and that is not a good thing – than all bar one of the last 10 Epsom champions.

Dawn Approach, the son of New Approach and Hymn Of The Dawn and grandson of Phone Trick, has a dosage index of 1.67 because it has more speed elements in his pedigree than stamina ones. Hymn Of The Dawn was unplaced in all five of its career starts, none of which were over more than one mile. Phone Trick was an excellent sprinter, winning nine out of ten races and, before he died in 2005, developed a stellar international reputation for siring fast horses.

Sea The Stars, the brilliant John Oxx-trained winner of the English 2,000 Guineas, English Derby, Eclipse Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2009, is the only colt with a dosage index higher than that of Dawn Approach to have won the Epsom contest. Sea The Stars (dosage index of 3.00) is the exception to the rule, with the other recent English Derby winners being Kris Kin (1.05), North Light (1.13), Motivator (1.43), Sir Percy (0.54), Authorised (0.86), New Approach (0.89), Workforce (1.44) and Pour Moi (0.78).

Historically, the optimum blend of speed and stamina for the English Derby is expressed as a dosage index of 1.00 and a centre of distribution of 0.00. Dawn Approach has figures of 1.67 and 0.38 respectively so it makes no appeal at 7-4.

Other reasons to avoid Dawn Approach in the 2013 English Derby like the plague – one really ought to be laying the undefeated colt on a betting exchange – include how this year’s English 2,000 Guineas was run and the questionable form line of the race on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course.

The 2013 English 2,000 Guineas did not look like a good renewal on paper and the effort of 150-1 outsider Glory Awaits in securing second spot supports that assessment, with the Kevin Ryan-trained colt’s previous run this year being a 10-and-a-half-length third behind Intello in a Listed race at Newmarket less than three weeks earlier.

Moreover, while the 2013 English 2,000 Guineas was run to suit Dawn Approach, analysis of the sectional times does not support the widely held view that the champion stormed away from the field. According to the clock, Dawn Approach’s time over the last three furlongs was slower than the Newmarket norm, which supports the theory that the Epsom Derby may at least a furlong or two too far for the unbeaten favourite.

The 2013 English Derby is shaping as very interesting race from a betting perspective. General second favourite Battle Of Marengo has the same dosage index (1.67) as that of Dawn Approach and Mars did not show sufficient ability in this year’s English 2,000 Guineas to be a betting proposition even though his dosage index of 1.29 is more like it.

The ante-post 2013 English Derby value, at least from a dosage index perspective, is Michael Stoute’s Telescope, although the thieves have vacuumed up the really fancy quotes. Currently Telescope is trading at odds of around 6-1, which ranks him no worse than third with any bookmaker.

Telescope, whose owners include Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, would be undefeated if Richard Mullen had not dropped his whip when the son of Galileo made its first appearance. Telescope won on its next start, while its dosage index of 0.76 and centre of distribution of -0.09 suggest that he will relish the 2013 English Derby trip.

Telescope is bred to get every yard of the Epsom event and, with home reports raving about its looks and general well being, back it ahead of the underpriced warm favourite.

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