Trainer Jim Bolger "couldn't be happier" with Dawn Approach as he looks to confirm his superiority over Toronado in a mouthwatering Qipco Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this afternoon.
Champion juvenile after an unbeaten six-race campaign, Dawn Approach made a brilliant three-year-old return with an awesome victory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, with Toronado only fourth.
Dawn Approach then suffered his first defeat with a spectacular collapse in the Investec Derby, in which he pulled fiercely for his head before weakening dramatically to trail home last of 12 runners over a trip he was never guaranteed to get.
His Epsom demise proved only a minor blip, however, as he roared back to form with a thrilling success when dropped back to a mile in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Trainer Richard Hannon's insistence Toronado was not at his best in the Rowley Mile Classic was justified as his charge got much closer to Dawn Approach at the Royal meeting, beaten just a short head in a pulsating finish.
The pair again do battle on the Sussex Downs, with Bolger in confident mood.
He said: "I'd say he's a hard horse to get past. Kevin (Manning) has been riding him since April or May the previous year, so there's nothing he doesn't know about him at this stage.
"Two days after Ascot he was bucking and squealing. That's the sort he is and he didn't need a break.
"A week later he's put up about 10 kilos, so it was time to get after him again. I'd be hoping that he'll handle the track. We won't know until afterwards, but I'd be fairly optimistic that he'll handle it well.
"He has a great mind and a great constitution. He's a very sound horse and, of course, he has the ability to match.
"Since last week he's rated the best horse in the world, so he has to tick all the boxes to get in that position. I couldn't be happier with him."
Manning is similarly optimistic about Dawn Approach's chances.
He told At The Races: "I can't see the track being a problem. I think he's very adaptable. I wouldn't have any concerns on that part.
"I think they are the two horses (Dawn Approach and Toronado). I always say when you step into Group One level everything is a danger, but they are the top two horses and we will see what unfolds."
Bolger also saddles Dawn Approach's stable companion and regular pacesetter Leitir Mor.
The Hannon team are in typically bullish mood.
Speaking on his website www.richardhannonracing.co.uk, the trainer said: "Both horses (Toronado and Dawn Approach) want a proper gallop, enabling them to settle, but we know that our fellow is straightforward in that we can ride him from the front or sit on him so as to utilise his speed.
"We think that the track will suit him, and his preparation since Ascot has gone smoothly.
"If we get beat then so be it, but we could not be happier with our fellow, and he is so much more relaxed since we moved him to Herridge and equipped him with the spoon-bit. Fingers crossed this will be our day."
Dawn Approach and Toronado are testing the water in all-aged company for the first time, with Aidan O'Brien's Declaration Of War undoubtedly the biggest threat from the older brigade.
Winner of the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, the four-year-old was far from disgraced when runner-up in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown over a mile and a quarter.
The trainer's son, Joseph, again takes the ride and is hopeful he can make his presence felt. O'Brien said: "It's a good race, it's probably one of the races of the season.
"I think a mile and a quarter just stretched him a little bit in the Eclipse. A strongly-run mile is probably ideal for him.
"We obviously have to give the three-year-olds weight, but it's quite difficult to compare the form of the three-year-olds and the older horses. The faster the ground the better for my horse. We'd be hoping for a good run."
O'Brien also runs Reply, with the seven-runner field completed by John Gosden's Gregorian and the David Simcock-trained Trade Storm.