Twelve months on from seeing the Triple Crown slip away, Ballydoyle were all smiles in the Doncaster winner’s enclosure on Saturday as Leading Light claimed Classic glory in the Ladbrokes St Leger.
Following thrilling victories in the 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby last term, Camelot was long odds-on to become the first horse since the legendary Nijinsky in 1970 to complete the elusive treble. But, instead, racegoers were left shocked and underwhelmed as Aidan O’Brien’s runner, partnered by his son, Joseph, suffered a shock eclipse at the hands of unconsidered outsider Encke.
A year later and the same purple and white silks of Derrick Smith and co-owners Michael Tabor and John Magnier were carried by the favourite again, yet, despite losing just one of his six previous starts, Leading Light did not arrive with the same air of invincibility.
However, never too far off the pace, he showed his stamina as well as a touch of class to see off Ralph Beckett’s Epsom Oaks heroine Talent by a length and a quarter, with Galileo Rock third for David Wachman.
The winner could now be supplemented for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp next month.
Aidan O’Brien said: “The lads will make the decision [on where to run next] but it [the Arc] would be open to them if they wanted to do that.”
Yesterday, meanwhile, Frankie Dettori claimed his first Group One winner since his comeback and can look forward to riding a joint-favourite for the Arc as Treve turned in a dazzling performance on a remarkable day of trials at Longchamp.
Coming in between the victories of Japanese raiders Kizuna and Orfevre as the ante-post market changed almost minute by minute, Criquette Head-Maarek’s diminutive but unbeaten filly will be aimed for France’s greatest prize in three weeks’ time, as she was in a class of her own against her own sex in the Prix Vermeille. Dettori, who returned at the start of summer after serving the well-publicised drugs ban he picked up when riding in France, was cementing his partnership with Sheikh Joaan Al Thani and immediately embraced the owner.
He said: “The Arc will be a different type of race, so I just hope I’m drawn on the fence so I can get some cover.
“It was always the plan to ride her like that as I knew she had a great turn of foot.”
Orfevre collected the Prix Foy with some ease, while Kizuna’s margin was rather smaller in the Prix Niel, but he came out a short head in front of the Investec Derby winner, Ruler Of The World.
On a breathless afternoon at the Curragh, master trainer Dermot Weld claimed his seventh victory in the GAIN Irish St Leger when Voleuse De Coeurs ran riot under Chris Hayes.
Ahzeemah, the 7-2 favourite, finished second.