Racing: No Triple Crown for Camelot
DONCASTER’S atmosphere on Saturday switched from heightened to distinctly flat within the space of three minutes as Godolphin’s Encke extinguished hopes of Camelot achieving a rare English Triple Crown in the Ladbrokes St Leger.
Previously unbeaten, Camelot was the 2-5 favourite to add the season’s final Classic to his 2,000 Guineas and Derby successes.
Unfortunately for his supporters and the sell-out crowd, Aidan O’Brien’s colt was caught out by an unsteady pace and the sublime riding of Mickael Barzalona on Encke.
There have been many epic head-to-heads between the ranks of Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stables and the O’Brien-Coolmore axis, but this was a rather unexpected sixth Leger for the owner, and a first for both trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni and Barzalona on his debut in the event.
Sitting carefully in the middle of the pack as the field were taken along by Dartford, the sole pacemaker working for eventual third Michelangelo, Barzalona was far more quickly into the drive position on the 25-1 chance than Joseph O’Brien on Camelot. Even once the favourite was free from the rail, the handful of lengths the Frenchman had stolen with a couple of furlongs to run, turned out to be insurmountable.
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said: “Mickael rode a beautiful race and when he kicked at the two-pole he put the race to bed really. What we loved about that race was the turn of foot he showed, that stands very well for next season and he will stay in training.
“I would imagine it’s very unlikely he’ll run again this season but we will see what Sheikh Mohammed wants to do.”
No Guineas and Derby winner had even attempted the Triple Crown since former Ballydoyle inmate Nijinsky managed the feat in 1970 and Camelot had to conquer the extra two furlongs which had even eluded the great Shergar.
The first horse to try and fail since World War II, such an opportunity lost caused Joseph O’Brien to return in tears.
His father said: “It wasn’t what we thought it was going to be. It was a steadily-run race and Joseph said he was a little bit fresh with him, but that was probably always going to happen in a slowly-run race. You have to take your time on him over a mile and six which he [Joseph] did and when he got out he just stayed on rather than quickened.
“In the Guineas he quickened and in the Derby he quickened, but he just stayed on here.
“He ran a great race but just got beat. It’s disappointing for everybody but that’s the way it is. That’s racing.
“We expected him to win and, if I thought they were going to go that steady, I would have had a pacemaker in or two pacemakers. But that’s my fault.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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