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  1. #11
    Senior Member Lester's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Aidan O'Brien admits it would be beyond his wildest dreams if Camelot can ensure his place in racing legend and secure Triple Crown glory in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster.
    O'Brien has had some of the greatest racehorses of the modern era pass through his hands since taking over the reins at Ballydoyle in the mid-90's, but claims none compare to a three-year-old Montjeu colt he describes as "an incredible talent."
    It is 42 years since the great Nijinsky claimed the holy grail of 2000 Guineas, Derby and Leger, the first time it had been done since Bahram in 1935.
    Only 15 horses have completed the treble in Turf history - although Pommern, Gay Crusader and Gainsborough are not generally recognised as their races were all run at Newmarket during the First World War and all three won a race known as the September Stakes, which was a replacement for the Leger.
    No horse has attempted the feat since the Vincent O'Brien-trained Nijinsky, who, like the unbeaten Camelot, was housed at Ballydoyle.
    Camelot has purposely been given time to prepare for this ultimate test, having not been seen since completing the Derby double at the Curragh in late June.
    It also promises to be a landmark day for O'Brien from another point of view, as victory in the Leger would mean he would become the first to train all five British Classic winners in a single season.
    Aside from Camelot, the O'Brien-trained Homecoming Queen won the 1000 Guineas while Was landed the Investec Oaks.
    O'Brien said: "We've had great horses all through the years and you always hope something different will come along again and then when he (Camelot) arrived it was just incredible.
    "He's an incredible talent really. One of those very special horses, one that only comes once in a lifetime.
    "We are in the zone where you don't want to talk about things - you just want to keep everything smooth.
    "We think Camelot is like no other horse. Who knows what is going to happen - we don't take anything for granted. We will do our very best - it's all we can do.
    "We (O'Brien and his wife Annemarie) breed horses - you don't look for just speed anymore, it is class you look for (in stallions).
    "They have to have speed, stamina and courage - they are the three most important things when you are breeding horses. The Leger will expose the last two.
    "To be going for the Triple Crown is something I could never dream of happening. Extreme distance can break hearts. The Triple Crown is the full test of the three-year-old."
    Main Sequence was five lengths adrift of Camelot when runner-up in the Epsom Derby and reopposes on Town Moor this weekend.
    Trainer David Lanigan admits it will be difficult to turn the tables, but is keen to give it a go as both horses step up from a mile and a half to a mile and three-quarters.
    Lanigan said: "He had a canter this morning and he seems in really good form.
    "We all know Camelot is going to be very hard to beat, but it's the last British Classic, we know it's going to be hard to win, but we'll give it a go."
    Joining Camelot on the trip across the Irish Sea is Tommy Carmody's fast-improving colt Ursa Major, winner of the Irish St Leger trial at the Curragh.
    The St Leger is one of the few major races still eluding top jockey Johnny Murtagh, but he feels Ursa Major has plenty going for him.
    He said: "He's a three-year-old and we're never going to have the chance to run in a Classic again.
    "It's not a one-horse race, Camelot has to turn up, he has to perform and he has to run over a mile and six and a half furlongs, but obviously he has the best form by far.
    "My horse is a nice stayer, he's done nothing but improve, so we're looking forward to it."
    The last of Henry Cecil's four Leger heroes was Michelozzo in 1989 and this year he saddles Thomas Chippendale, who carries the colours of Yorkshireman Robert Ogden.
    Ogden's racing manager, Barry Simpson said: "We're perfectly happy with him and his work has been good.
    "Realistically we know Camelot is above all the rest, but equally, if you discount the pacemaker, there are seven other horses in the race that are very closely matched."
    The Godolphin team have won the St Leger on five previous occasions, but this year's representative Encke is one of the outsiders.
    Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni said: "We can dream of beating Camelot but anything can happen in this game and our horse deserves to take his chance."
    The William Haggas-trained Guarantee did not make his debut until finishing second at Windsor in mid-June, but has since completed a hat-trick in the Melrose Stakes at York.
    Haggas said: "He's very well and will have enjoyed the rain that came on Wednesday. He's an improving young horse, but he's got another huge mountain to climb.
    "He's on good terms with himself and if you're not in, you can't win."
    John Gosden has saddled the last two St Leger winners and four in all.
    He has a formidable hand with Thought Worthy and Michelangelo joined by expected pacemaker Dartford.
    Gosden said: "Thought Worthy has been fine since York where he showed he's a very game horse. He's from a family of tough staying horses.
    "Michelangelo has done nothing wrong in his four races. He was third in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, which is not everybody's track.

  2. #12
    Camelot: Not many Derby winners turn up in the St Leger these days and so it's hats off to connections of Camelot, who will become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1970 if he comes home in front.
    Hacked up by five lengths in the Derby and is far and away the classiest horse in the line-up but the Leger is a really tough test of stamina and Camelot seemed to be tiring a little at the end of the Irish Derby last time.
    The likeliest winner, but worth opposing at a very short 2/5. Rating (out of 10): 9
    Dartford: Has never won a race and was beaten by 22 lengths at 150/1 last time, so probably safe to assume he will be setting the pace for trainer John Gosden's other runners. 0
    Encke: Nice, progressive horse but put in his place by Thought Worthy and Main Sequence at York last time and not an obvious improver for this longer trip. 3
    Guarantee: Very much on the upgrade and romped to victory in a big handicap at York last time by three and a half lengths.
    Taking on proven top performers here though, and needs to find major improvement. 4
    Main Sequence: The Derby runner-up has continued to run well, finishing an unlucky fourth in a big race in France before being touched off by Thought Worthy in the Great Voltigeur.
    Definitely a possible each-way punt but seems to have acquired the habit of finding one or two too strong. 6
    Michelangelo: A beautifully sculpted colt who left his rivals on the canvas at Goodwood and Newmarket earlier this season.
    However, he looked a little below top class when third at Goodwood last time and may get tapped for toe, even at this longer trip. 5
    Thomas Chippendale: Another of these to have lined up in the Great Voltigeur and only managed fifth place of the six who lined up there, so has it to do on the book. 2
    Thought Worthy: A solid fourth in the Derby was followed by a third at Royal Ascot and then a battling victory in the Great Voltigeur at York, which is often the key trial.
    That was a slightly muddling race but this colt seems to have the class and versatility for the Leger and he looks the number one candidate for trainer John Gosden, who has won the last two runnings, and three of the last five. Rock-solid claims. 10
    Ursa Major: Very interesting Irish runner who has never finished outside the first two and landed the Irish St Leger Trial in impressive fashion last month, beating a progressive type.
    May find the ground a little quick but that is a minor quibble and there has been some money for him over the last week. 8
    It would be a fantastic achievement if Camelot could win the Triple Crown but it's a rare horse who can win Classics at both a mile and almost two miles these days and he can be taken on at an extremely short price.
    St Leger specialist John Gosden once again has a likely candidate in the shape of Thought Worthy and Ursa Major could also play a starring role.
    2 Ursa Major

  3. #13
    Simpn holt also tipped thought worthy

  4. #14
    Camelot denied Triple Crown as Encke wins St Leger
    It is unclear quite where fiction stops and history starts with the magical kingdom ruled over by King Arthur named Camelot.

    the Triple Crown, which the legendary domain’s equine namesake sought at Doncaster on Saturday, remains just a romantic notion for the modern generation after the Ballydoyle colt came up threequarters of a length short in second place behind the 25-1 outsider Encke.
    No one ever said that winning the Triple Crown would be easy. And nor was it. Even though a crowd of 32,000 people were willing it, history was not made here. In the biggest shock since Shergar was beaten in the race back in 1981, Camelot’s unsuccessful attempt to add the Ladbrokes St Leger to his 2,000 Guineas and Derby owed something to bad luck but, ultimately, his performance was baffling.
    Instead of the extended mile and threequarters proving to be a furlong too far for Camelot, the way the race was run it appeared to be a furlong too short. Showing none of the speed that had twice carried him into the winner’s enclosures of Newmarket and Epsom, another 220 yards on Saturday and he might actually have ground down the Godolphin colt, Encke.
    Given the choice of hugging the rail up the straight or pulling wide early for some clear air, if he had another go Joseph O’Brien would surely take the latter option. As it was the pacemaking Dartford dropped back in his path and the jockey had to take a pull and then switch Camelot, by which time the stayers, including Encke, had already wound their gallop up to full tilt.
    Even so it would be logical to assume that a Guineas winner would then pick up and fly but, for the first time, Camelot found life on a racecourse was not easy. His head came up and he never looked likely to catch Encke although, to his credit, even with the battle lost he galloped all the way to the line.
    Afterwards Aidan O’Brien blamed himself for not having run his own pacemakers. “It was a steadily run race and I knew straightaway that was the case. I should have run a pacemaker or two, but I thought it was going to be strong,” he said. “How many times do I do it and make a hash of running pacemakers and then I make a hash of not having any.”
    “Joseph was exactly where I wanted him to be but the horse tanked and pulled a bit because of the steady pace. He had to take his time up the straight and when the gaps came, the winner was in a handier position and was gone. When Camelot got out he stayed on rather than quickened. But that’s the way it is and well done to the winner.”
    Earlier in the day Godolphin had run three horses in a handicap worth 10,000 to the winner. That was not part of the mission statement when Sheikh Mohammed set the organisation up but winning Classics was and, in a season that has yielded little domestically other than the Ascot Gold Cup, Encke, in providing them with a sixth Leger, has to some extent rescued their year.
    “We are probably not going to be the most popular winner but we don’t mind being party poopers,” Simon Crisford, Goldolphin’s racing manager, said. “Mickael Barzalona gave the horse a superb ride and put the race to bed when he kicked two furlongs out. There was a question about Encke’s stamina, but in the end he stayed it well.”
    Barzalona, who sprung to prominence when winning last year’s Derby on Pour Moi for the owners of Camelot, looked as surprised as Joseph O’Brien looked deflated. He explained he looked round and kicked when he saw Camelot 'navigating’ a way through horses two furlongs out.
    “My horse travelled very well today and when I asked him to go he responded very quickly,” he said. “I won the Derby last year but today’s the best.”
    So Camelot becomes the 10th horse to attempt but fail to win the Triple Crown. That was not the history that racing was hoping he would make. It was last won by Nijinsky 42 years ago. On the back of the result it may be another 42 years before anyone attempts it again.

  5. #15
    Captain Christy
    Been lurking here for a while and know a lot of you follow Donn McClean. This is what he made of it ...

    So what happened? Why didn’t Camelot win?

    In considering your answer, a couple of things to bear in mind:

    1. The sedate pace was as crucial as it was surprising. All week, John Gosden was saying that he was going to run two horses and the pacemaker Dartford, in order to ensure that there was a strong pace, which would suit his other two horses and which would test Camelot’s stamina. There was a milli-second (on Wednesday afternoon, I think it was) when I thought, it’s not like Gosden to be declaring his hand so openly and so willingly, but I thought no more of it. As it happened, Dartford set a sedate pace, stacked them up in behind, and that was to the theoretical advantage of another Gosden horse Thought Worthy, who raced handily and tried to win the race by going for home off a slow pace from the top of the home straight, just as he had done in the Great Voltigeur.

    2. Aidan O’Brien said immediately after the race that he should have run a pacemaker or two, just to ensure that there would have been a solid even pace, that he shouldn’t have relied on somebody else to do it.

    3. After any favourite gets beaten, after any horse gets beaten, by a relatively narrow margin, you can almost always look back on the race and say, if the rider had done this instead of that, if he had kicked earlier or later than he did, or gone outside instead of inside, or gone inside instead of outside, or if he had sat still for another three strides, then he might have won. That’s the beauty of hindsight and race recordings. A rider operates in the split-second here and now.

    4. Remember that the main concern surrounding Camelot before the race was about his stamina for a mile and six and a half furlongs. He was never going to be done for pace. Johnny Murtagh said on the Morning Line that if they didn’t set a fast pace, they might as well give the St Leger cap to Joseph O’Brien there and then.

    5. With that in mind, Joseph really didn’t do much wrong. Perhaps, because of the sedate pace, he might have tried to angle out early in the home straight in order to open up his options, but his path to the outside was blocked by Michelangelo and, even if he had got out, he would have conceded ground and energy. If he had moved to the outside and then been beaten through a lack of stamina, he could legitimately have been criticised for leaving the rail and not pursuing the ground-saving route.

    6. In staying towards the inside, he chose the brave route, but the brave route is the most efficient route when the gap opens and, as it happened, the gap did open.

    7. Camelot was able to angle out at the two-furlong pole, plenty early enough. By then, Encke had produced a momentum-fuelled move down the outside, but even at that point, you still expected Camelot to unleash his trademark turn of foot and cut him down. The fact that the favourite traded at 1/5 at that point tells you that the market expected that as well. As it happened, it took him a stride or two to engage top gear and, even when he did, his progress was gradual, not instant.

    8. Perhaps that was because of the early sedate pace, perhaps it was because of the extended trip, perhaps it was because of the unusually fast ground. Or perhaps it was because Encke is better than we thought. The turn of foot that the Kingmambo colt showed in the hottest part of the race was really impressive, and it was enough to set up a race-winning advantage. If the Godolphin horse hadn’t been in the race, Camelot would have won it by three lengths.

    Shame that we didn’t get the history-making, 42-year-gap-bridging victory that we craved, but that’s racing for you.

    The debate goes on.

  6. #16
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2012
    Hindsight is an exact science, which makes it dirty pool to employ it too rigorously on such an inexact pursuit as racing. But even so there appear to be an awful lot of after-the-race merchants willing to put Joseph O’Brien’s Camelot ride in the Leger under the microscope and come up with a negative verdict. And you have to ask why?

    OK, it wasn’t an absolutely pristine run-through the last classic of the season, but there’s a sense that Ruby Walsh’s reaction to a narrow comeback win on a heavy odds-on shot at Listowel the following day sums it up best – “I’ve won a head so I’m a hero but if I was beaten a head I would be a gobshite.”

    Put it like this, if you offered Aidan O’Brien before the race a scenario where there would be a far-from-manic pace, a ground-saving rail trip, and being sat a length off the main threat at the two furlong pole, getting a tow by that threat into the bargain, then he wouldn’t have so much taken it as grabbed your hand off.

    And that’s what transpired. The Camelot that quickened up in the Guineas and the Derby had ample opportunity to do the same, and in plenty of time. But he didn’t quicken in the Leger. All he did was stay on.

    Hindsight had Aidan O’Brien talking about putting pacemakers in, and wanting a faster tempo, but that’s all hindsight too. The race was set up for the quickest horse which Camelot has been in all five previous starts. For some reason, he wasn’t on Saturday.

    The one crib it is possible to make is that Camelot appeared to get unbalanced on young O’Brien at just the same time as Enke kicked. But listen to some critics and you’d swear the kid had been loitering extravagantly out the back and steering the favourite into every pocket going. He didn’t.

    Maybe it was Simon Holt’s race commentary, going on about Enke getting “first run.” That phrase suggests Camelot was somehow detained by traffic in behind. He wasn’t. Enke quickened. Camelot didn’t.

    The question of whether race-callers are there to call what happens, not to indulge in interpretation of what’s happening, is a separate matter, but just because Holt thinks Enke got first run doesn’t mean he did.

    Anyway, it was all very anti-climactic, and Camelot’s defeat will probably impact on any future Triple Crown attempts for quite a while. That could end up being the real negative from the weekend.

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