CAMELOT’S GREATNESS AS a racehorse is not in doubt but on Saturday he can achieve legendary status by winning the English St Leger and become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 42 years.
Despite his achievement in winning the English 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby, the Ballydoyle superstar has had to play second fiddle to the remarkable unbeaten Frankel in terms of racing headlines.
However, landing the world’s oldest classic — becoming the 16th horse to pull off the Triple Crown but first since Nijinsky in 1970 — would justifiably earn the Irish horse as great a profile as Henry Cecil’s wonderhorse.
Camelot’s trainer Aidan O’Brien has had a pretty nerve-wracking week in just getting the horse to the race fit. He has even called upon Lester Piggott for advice as the English riding legend was aboard Nijinsky for the late Dr Vincent O’Brien – no relation to Aidan – in 1970.
“Lester was reminding us that the Leger is nearly two miles and that made me think,” said 42-year-old O’Brien, who also saddles the classy Imperial Monarch, who won the Group One Grand Prix de Paris in July, and likely pacemaker Chamonix.
“We’re asking a Guineas winner to do this – he nearly has to be a (Ascot) Gold Cup horse.”
O’Brien – who has won the St Leger three times – is refusing though to anticipate what the headlines will look like if Camelot wins.
“History is something for those behind us to read about. It’s not a lot of good to any of us right now.”
Camelot is likely to face up to 10 rivals including the highly-talented Main Sequence, who chased him home in the Derby and has been unlucky in two subsequent Group outings including a second in the traditional prep race for the Leger, the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month.
Danger too could be lurking in the form of the three-pronged challenge from last year’s winning trainer John Gosden with Thought Worthy – who beat Main Sequence at York – probably his favoured choice ahead of Michelangelo.
While O’Brien watches his superstar’s shot at history, it could be a big day for Team Ballydoyle back home in Ireland as well with Fame and Glory favourite to make it a St Leger double in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.
To do so, the six-year-old will have to fend off the challenge of John Oxx’s Hartani as well Brown Panther, trained by Tom Dascombe and owned by Stoke City footballer Michael Owen.
(c) AFP, 2012