Dawn Approach has to conquer 20-year hoodoo to win Epsom Derby

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At the time in March last year, the fact that Dawn Approach had won a 5f maiden at The Curragh would not have developed into too many conversations regarding the result of the 2013 Epsom Derby.

After all, the last horse to win the Derby having raced over 5f earlier in their career was Generous and his Epsom success was over 20 years ago back in 1991.

Winners of such maidens are expected to embark on a decent sprint career or if they are considered to have slightly more stamina in their pedigree, they may take in a Group race over 1m.

For typical Derby entrants, stamina is clear in the pedigree from the outset and a racecourse debut is made over 1m.

At worst, the shortest distance a Derby winner can be expected to open their career over is 7f. Talking of distances, Oath in 1999 and Sir Percy in 2006 are the only Derby victors since Generous to have run over 6f in their careers, let alone 5f.

All of Dawn Approach’s first four wins were over no further than 6f and the Derby record of horses to have been regarded as sprinters early in their two-year-old phase does put a question mark over his Epsom prospects.

Certainly, enough to suggest that 1/1 is plenty short enough in the Derby odds on a Dawn Approach victory.

It is in his dam’s side where the doubts creep in, as there are numerous Derby winners in his stallion line, notably his father New Approach.

In all truth, his breeding suggests that his stamina for 1m4f is not guaranteed, but his breeding would not have previously suggested that he was a horse capable of running to his current official rating of 132.

Looking at the Derby runners, Dawn Approach is the clear pick and the likely winner, but there is enough doubt to avoid getting over enthusiastic.

Of the other Derby entrants, only 500/1 outsider Ocean Applause has previously run over 6f or shorter.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.