St Leger favourite Camelot delights Aidan O’Brien in Leopardstown work
• Trainer happy after key gallop ahead of St Leger bid
• Fame And Glory one of trio in racecourse workout
- guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 August 2012 20.06 BST
The racecourse workout has frequently been used by the trainer Aidan O’Brien with previous champions as a means of bringing forward a horse who has enjoyed a break from the action.
But rather than the customary dawdle at which such affairs are often staged, Camelot enjoyed a genuine blow-out ahead of his historic bid to become the first horse since Nijinksy in 1970 to win British racing’s Triple Crown by adding the St Leger to his previous victories in the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby.
With the regular jockey Joseph O’Brien in the saddle, Camelot was held up behind his stablemates Chamonix and Fame And Glory in the early stages of the gallop over about a mile and three furlongs. The pair had spent some time circling the paddock beforehand, Camelot’s presence having attracted understandable interest among early arrivals at the course.
Fellow St Leger possible Chamonix, ridden by the former jumps jockey Dean Gallagher, led the trio at a decent pace until headed over two furlongs out, at which point Fame And Glory and Seamie Heffernan momentarily took over before Camelot cruised clear to ultimately finish half a dozen lengths in front. O’Brien declared himself “delighted, absolutely”.
“They went a nice solid bit of work, it was an even pace, and you’d have to be happy with him [Camelot],” he added. “He’s done very well physically, he’s made like a miler and you can see that he has a bit of a tummy on him.
“It’s a long time from The Curragh [and his most recent victory in the Irish Derby] to Doncaster so he needed to go somewhere and it was easier to come here than to go to somewhere like York. It’s been a good while since he ran, he has had a break, so we’re delighted.”
However, the prospect of stepping Camelot up to the one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards of the Leger trip appeared to be weighing on his mind. “Obviously you’re going to be running a good bit beyond his trip,” he said. “He’s had a nice day out, now he can come home and be trained for it. But it will obviously be a big test for him going over the trip.”
It would undoubtedly be beyond most three-year-olds to possess sufficient speed to win a Classic over a mile and yet also have the stamina for the St Leger. The Triple Crown is not just a feat rarely achieved, but also something rarely attempted.
Camelot’s owners clearly believe that the colt’s class will see him through, but with O’Brien publicising his apparent doubts so far before the race, we must expect the issue to become a familiar theme in the buildup to the race.
We can at least hope that in the absence of Frankel and with other top-class performers set to retire to Coolmore at the end of this season, his owners may be persuaded to keep Camelot in training next year, whether his Doncaster venture on 15 September ends in success or not.
Fame And Glory’s next start will be in the Irish St Leger, a contest that is open to older horses as well as three-year-olds.
He will be on a retrieval mission after proving bitterly disappointing when favourite to land back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, a performance his trainer put down to the horse “getting older and wiser”.
“He went to sleep and didn’t wake up,” said O’Brien. “Seamus is adamant that the way to ride him will be to go handy.”
Meanwhile, speculation continues over the make-up of the presenting team for Channel 4’s racing coverage when the programme is relaunched under IMG Sports Media in the new year.
One presenter widely tipped to be involved alongside Clare Balding is her colleague Rishi Persad, who also had a key role in the BBC’s acclaimed coverage of the Olympics. Channel 4’s sports editor Jamie Aitchison is believed to be interested in continuing the partnership.
Persad, who has been confirmed as a reporter for the BBC’s Ryder Cup golf coverage next month, worked with Balding and newly appointed Channel 4 Racing executive producer Carl Hicks on the BBC’s racing output and has also been involved with IMG at the World Snooker Championship for the BBC. “I sent Carl a text to congratulate him when I heard news of his appointment, but I haven’t heard anything more,” said Persad. “I would obviously be delighted to be considered.”
Camelot being put through his paces by jockey Joseph O’Brien
CAMELOT, who will bid to add next month’s Ladbrokes St Leger to his 2,000 Guineas and Derby triumphs, warmed up for the Doncaster Classic when exercising over 1m4f at Leopardstown on Thursday.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt, odds-on favourite for the St Leger, worked under Joseph O’Brien with stablemates Fame And Glory and Chamonix.
Settled behind the pair, Camelot was eased into the lead two furlongs out and finished six lengths clear of Fame And Glory.