So for the first time since Nijinsky in 1970, a horse has the Triple Crown in his sights and that his name is CAMELOT is so apt that the fairy-tale may just come true. Will he follow in the footsteps of the legendary Nijinsky whose statue dominates the entrance to the famous Ballydoyle yard which has been home to both? This coming Saturday the unbeaten Camelot lines up at Doncaster with horse racing immortality just one race away! Trained in Ireland by arguably the world’s greatest trainer Aidan O’Brien, Camelot has taken English racing by storm with consummate wins in both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby.
The English Triple Crown is the pinnacle of horseracing in that country and comprises winning three races over three different distances at three different tracks. The Triple Crown consists of
- The 2000 Guineas, held at Newmarket in April/May of each year, and raced over the Rowley Mile (1600m). The 2000 Guineas was the last of the three Triple Crown races to come into existence, with its inaugural running taking place in 1809.
- The Derby held at Epsom on the first Saturday of June since 1780 and raced over 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards (2400m). This race is generally considered to be the most important of the English Classic races
- The St Leger Stakes held at Doncaster since 1776. Held in September each year over the distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards (2950m) this race is generally considered to be the ‘poor cousin’ in the Triple Crown and is a test of true stamina.Since inception the Triple Crown has only been won 15 times, with the first winner, West Australian, way back in 1853.
Since inception the Triple Crown has only been won 15 times, with the first winner, West Australian, way back in 1853.
The most recent winner, a staggering 42 years ago, was the undoubted champion of his era, the great Nijinsky.
Since Nijinsky, only Nashwan (1989), Sea the Stars (2009), and now Camelot (2012) have won both the Guineas and the Derby, and in addition, no Derby winner has even entered the St. Leger since Reference Point in 1987. This is primarily attributed to those horses being aimed at the more prestigious Arc d’Triomphe held in October in Paris.
In the 2000 Guineas, Camelot started 18-10 favourite on the strength of his superb win the Racing Post Trophy the previous October. He lived up to his already lofty reputation as he threaded his way from well off the pace to catch the 12-1 chance French Fifteen and Hermival (16-1).
In the post-race interviews trainer O’Brien indicated that his champion would, based on breeding and confirmation, be far better suited to the Derby trip. O’Brien’s son, Joseph, who rode the winner felt that “he was very relaxed and will be much better going a bit further."'
Camelot went to post at Epsom as the shortest priced favourite for the Derby, at odds of 8-13 (a squeak over 6-10), since the 1918 winner Gainsborough. Much better suited to the mile-and-a-half trip Camelot came with a late charge under a confident Joseph O’Brien to win by a widening 5-lengths.
The Derby win was a first ever for a father/son- trainer/jockey combination and Aidan O’Brien exclaimed "No-one can describe the feeling, things like this don't happen. We’ll give the Triple Crown a lot of thought and the boys will make a decision and do whatever is best for the horse." He added "The Triple Crown would be incredible."
The Irish Derby at the Curragh in late June proved to be a tough race for Camelot as he encountered testing conditions for the first time, but his class saw him land the restrictive odds of 1-5.
Camelot has yet to race against older horses, continually beating up a crop of fellow three-year-olds that are considered to be a below-par group. However Aidan O’Brien has commented that Camelot is the “most incredible horse we’ve had since we started."
That is one hell of a statement from a man who has had champions of the calibre of Galileo, High Chaparral, Alexandrova, St Nicholas Abbey and Rock of Gibraltar in his stable since 1996.
Whatever the logic behind Camelot attempting the Triple Crown, the fact remains there is almost nothing commercial or financial to be gained by winning on Saturday, as his stud value is almost certainly pre-determined. There is of course the allure of “Triple Crown Winner” - a title not held since 1970.
|Nijinsky after winning the St Leger in 1970...|
|....Could this be the similar scene with Camelot in 2012?|
A maximum of 10 opponents will line up against Camelot on Saturday and will likely include stable companions Imperial Monarch and Chamonix.
Thought Worthy, winner of the Great Voltigeur at York recently will be in the field as will runner up Main Sequence (also second in the Derby), third placed Encke and fifth placed Thomas Chippendale. On exposed form Camelot has this lot stone cold as he trounced Thought Worthy by 11-lengths at Epsom.
John Gosden, trainer of Thought Worthy, also sends out the lightly raced Michelangelo and recognised pacemaker Dartford. Guarantee, trained by William Haggas, was a facile winner of the Melrose Stakes in his last start and former jockey Thomas Carmody sends out Ursa Major as a 20-1 long-shot.
|1||(7)||Camelot||4-10||Aiden O'Brien||J P O'Brien|
|2||(8)||Dartford||250-1||John Gosden||R Havlin|
|3||(1)||Encke||33-1||M Al Zarooni||M Barzalona|
|4||(9)||Guarantee||14-1||W J Haggas||P Makin|
|5||(6)||Main Sequence||8-1||David Lanigan||T E Durcan|
|6||(4)||Michelangelo||12-1||John Gosden||L Dettori|
|7||(2)||Thomas Chippendale||25-1||Sir Henry Cecil||T P Queally|
|8||(3)||Thought Worthy||9-1||John Gosden||William Buick|
|9||(5)||Ursa Major||16-1||T Carmody||J P Murtagh|
Betting last updated 14th September, 11:00. Betting is subject to change.
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Written by Dermot O'Connell for Hollywoodbets.net and Sporting Post.
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