Camelot with Joseph O’Brien aboard…
(Photo : Herlad)
INVESTEC DERBY (Group 1)
Epsom Downs, Turf, 2400m
2 June 2012
Geoff Lester - Aidan O’Brien, who has sent out five seconds since he last won the G1 Investec Derby with High Chaparral in 2002, might still have 24 entries for the Blue Riband Classic, the Group 1 Invested Derby at Epsom on June 2, but the record-breaking Ballydoyle trainer had eyes only for G1 2000 Guineas winner Camelot (Ire) (Montjeu) when he unveiled his team of superstars at a press open day Monday morning at the famed training center.
Asked whether he was confident that Camelot, who came from last at Newmarket, would have the stamina for the mile and a half, O’Brien said: “Being by Montjeu, you would have to be optimistic that he will stay, but there are also serious Danehill and Kingmambo traits in Camelot, and he has always been a horse with tremendous speed.”
O’Brien continued, “Epsom is a unique atmosphere and can get to many horses, and, while Camelot is a calm individual and very relaxed, like so many with such an explosive burst of acceleration he has lots of nervous energy, so we have to be careful with him, and he won’t do too much more work before the big day.”
Joseph O’Brien, who will be 19 next week, celebrated his first British Classic success on Camelot at Newmarket, and his father admitted that both he and his wife Anne-Marie will be the proudest parents in the world if he happens to win at Epsom.
“We are enjoying what is a fairytale with Joseph riding these big winners, but I don’t even want to think about how I would feel if the dream became reality at Epsom,” he said. “It could all have ended in disaster in the French Guineas on Sunday when Furner’s Green took a fatal fall passing the winning post.”
“Camelot has been a special horse from day one,” O’Brien said of the likely Derby favourite. “We were very nervous before the Guineas, especially as we knew that Joseph was going to drop him out and ride him like a doubtful stayer. Joseph wanted him to learn at Newmarket, and what I liked was the way that Camelot came through the gaps between horses and put his head down and fought. Camelot has the looks, the pedigree and the presence, and he reminds me of a dressage horse in that his movement is perfection.”
As for his rising star stable jockey, O’Brien offered, “Joseph has never known anything but horses from the moment he could walk. He used to sit in the back of the jeep with me on the gallops in the mornings before he went to school, and then he would ride out every weekend. He has been involved in all the discussions about the horses from an early age, and he has been with us in the good days and the ordinary days. Joseph rides out every morning, and our other three children have also starting riding out, but we all know nothing else. We don’t do holidays - apart from when we go to the Breeders’ Cup!”
“We are all very excited about the Derby, but it is a long time since we have won (39 losers since High Chaparral), and many a year we have come home feeling very humble. We have done everything we can, and now we can, but hope and pray that Camelot is good enough.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News