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(Image : Ramadan - Footage : Official BC Series)
LADBROKES ST LEGER STAKES (Gr1)
Doncaster, Turf, 2937m
15 September 2012
Camelot (GB) (Montjeu) yesterday headed the 11 entries remaining for Saturday’s G1 Ladbrokes St Leger and trainer Aidan O’Brien admitted to some anxious moments ahead of the unbeaten colt’s Triple Crown bid. Currently rated a 1-3 shot, generally to emulate the 1970 hero Nijinsky and end the 42-year wait for the prestigious honour to be bestowed once again, Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor’s flag bearer is firmly on target for the extended 14-furlong test and a slice of history.
“Everything has been good so far, although there are always worries,” the Ballydoyle maestro told a gathering at a media day yesterday. “We are in the zone where you don’t want to talk about things, you just want to keep everything smooth. None of us know what is going to happen tomorrow. Accidents never just happen, they are always caused along the line. We just have to try and cover everything. It is a fickle time but we just have to stay focused.”
O’Brien admitted that the road to this point has not been straightforward, with testing ground at The Curragh almost curtailing his stop-over in the June 30 Irish Derby.
“We always had it in our heads that he would have three or four runs this year. After Epsom, our grass gallop was flooded and all his work was on the woodchip. When he ran in the Irish Derby, I don’t think I have ever known the ground so heavy at the Curragh. He runs very low to the ground, not rising much, so it was very touch and go whether he would run. He went through the race very easily, only racing for two furlongs; he just couldn’t quicken in the same way that day. We gave him a good break and his weight started to increase which was unusual. He will be heavier for the St Leger than he has been going into any other race, but with 3-year-olds they often don’t change until later in the year. His body is built more like a miler, in that he is round and strong as opposed to angular and lean. That is a little thing that would be in your mind.”
Camelot’s attitude is one of his great characteristics, O’Brien explained. “After his races, he just stands there and doesn’t blow which is very unusual. Most horses are bit agitated after a race. I think he must have a tremendous heart and lung capacity.”
“The horse is a very independent thinker. He is very sharp minded, very intelligent and very relaxed. If he was in a barn of 40 horses and some horses started messing, usually the barn would go mad but he wouldn’t. When horses walk off, most of them need other horses with them, but he doesn’t mind being by himself. He doesn’t look for company and makes his own mind up about things. We have to prioritise; 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 knew that Sue Magnier had the name Camelot for 10 years, since the last Derby winner, and we were not going to influence her in any way. She made her own mind up about it. It is a mystical kind of name and everything about this horse has not been normal. They have to have speed, stamina and courage - they are the three most important things when you are breeding horses. The Ladbrokes St Leger will expose the last two.”
“It will be an interesting day. The Triple Crown is a dream; what has changed with the lads is originally they wanted to make stallions and got them off to stud quick. Now it is make a stallion and expose him because they have a lot of mares. I suppose things have moved on - people are not as forgiving as they were and want to see horses being tested. The lads are prepared to race on the older horses and that previously did not happen. There are an awful lot more disappointments and you do your best; sometimes it is good enough, sometimes it is not. When it is not you try and analyse why not, move on and try not to dwell on it.”
“He is a jockey’s dream to ride as everything comes naturally to him,” jockey Joseph O’Brien, all nineteen years of him, said. “Camelot is an exceptional horse with a brilliant turn of foot. Whether he will stay a mile and three quarters, that’s the big question and nobody knows the answer until Saturday. It may only be just over two furlongs further than he has been before but that is still a lot. Camelot is still learning and has not had as much racing as some horses of his age. The Triple Crown would be a dream come true. I have seen the videos of Nijinsky and Lester Piggott and if Camelot could emulate that it would be unbelievable.”