This afternoon Camelot and the O’Brien’s will race into immortality if they can win the St Leger and claim the Holy Grail of horse racing the Triple Crown.
Forty two years have passed since the legendary Nijinsky and Lester Piggott claimed the Triple Crown for Vincent O’Brien on Town Moor and many said that it would not happen again. The history and majesty of racing was established by those who sought to breed a horse that had the speed to win a Guineas, the class to see off rivals in the Derby and the stamina to claim the ancient classic the St Leger. Only fifteen colts in the history of the classics have been able to do so. Some would argue the greatest of them all being Ormonde who was partnered by the legendary Fred Archer to take the Triple Crown in 1886 in Archer’s fateful last season.
In recent years the St Leger has dropped in significance and trainers have tended to have avoided running their best horses in the final classic. Both Nashwan and Sea the Stars never had it on their agenda after winning the Guineas and Derby and the quality of some recent winners has become questionable. If Camelot can win today it will go some way to revive this oldest of classics.
By no means is today’s race a walkover for the Ballydoyle team but Crockford believes that Camelot is worthy of his short odds. John Gosden is determined to test his stamina and make a race of it with the inclusion of Dartford as a pacemaker. As Gosden commented to ATR no wants this to be “a hollow crown”.
Crockford reviews the field :
Camelot – Unbeaten. Winner of the 2000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby this year. Aidan O’Brien told ATR that they had waited a long time to use the name until a truly legendary horse came along who deserved it. He says that this colt is the best he has ever had but this will be a “massive test”. Some say his run in the Irish Derby againstBorn To Sea shows there are possible chinks in his armour. Crockford believes he will stay and that he should seal is place in history along with the greats this afternoon.
Dartford – Here to set the pace for the Michelangelo and Thought Worthy and to ensure a true test of stamina.
Encke – Some creditiable performances this season but in form lines with others he should find a handful of his opponents too good for him.
Guarantee – The winner of the Melrose at York and a fascinating entry into the final classic. A Melrose winner has gone on to win the race before but not this year. Massive step up from handicap class to this.
Main Sequence – In other seasons it might to fair to say that he could have been a classic winner and is in Crockford’s opinion an unlucky loser of the Grand Prix de Paris and the Great Voltigeur. If there are any clinks in Camelot’s stamina he may be the one to expose him or at least run him close. The 8 and 9/1 being offered is excellent each way value.
Michelangelo – Highly respected by the stable and notched up some notable wins earlier this season but disappointed at Goodwood. Probably not John Gosden’s best chance as exposed by William Buick’s decision (even though he says it was a hard one) to ride Thought Worthy.
Thomas Chippendale – Sir Henry Cecil’s horse won well at Royal Ascot but does not seem to have come on from that and is caught with many others in the field by crossing and muddling form lines.
Thought Worthy – Had the beating of many of his rivals today in their last race the Great Voltigeur, but they have beaten him too in other races. Crockford feels his chances today have been flattered by that win which many put down to the masterful tactics of his jockey (Buick) and not the horse.
Ursa Major – Progressive type who surprised his jockey Johnny Murtagh by winning a Group Three on his last start. Murtagh told viewers on Channel 4’s Morning Line that he was here to win but that just seems to be hopeful.
2 MAIN SEQUENCE
3 URSA MAJOR
Camelot will seal his place in history and his young jockey and brilliant trainer will become racing legends.
(Photograph – Aidan O’Brien with Ryan Moore at Goodwood by Stuart Rice)