Racing: Camelot’s a good bet to wear crown

If YOU love sport and history, put 15 September in your diary right now. And, if you can be on Town Moor in Doncaster that day, then kill for a ticket to be at the 235th running of the St Leger.

For, after Camelot’s deserved victory under Joseph O’Brien in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh last night, all the signs are that the colt will go to Doncaster to try to win British racing’s fabled Triple Crown.

It will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see history made and all of racing will be hoping that Camelot takes his chance in the world’s oldest Classic, having won the 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby, the first two legs of the Triple.

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A hint came from Coolmore stud supremo John Magnier who pointed out that the last Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky in 1970, has a statue at the stud and it would be “nice” if Camelot’s statue joined it. Magnier, who owns the three-year-old with Coolmore partners Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, said: “He was always going to have a rest after today and I know Derrick and Michael’s dream is to have a Triple Crown winner. We will, if all goes well, try to make him a Triple Crown winner.”

The winning jockey added: “There’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge and a lot to be discussed but it’s definitely on the agenda.”

Trainer Aidan O’Brien was more cautious, although there were reports last night that he was going to give the go ahead, although he is an avowedly cautious man.

The bookmakers are certain Camelot will go for the race and win – Paddy Power go a measly 1-5 that he will win the Leger.

The Irish Derby almost proved Camelot’s undoing. The soft and heavy ground and windswept conditions were not to his liking, and only what O’Brien called “an incredible performance” got him home.

For the first mile, stablemate Astrology made the pace ahead of Akeed Mofeed and Light Heavy with Camelot in fourth and Born To Sea, the subject of late bets, tucked in behind.

Turning into the straight, Astrology’s race was soon over as Akeed Mofeed and Light Heavy went on. Camelot was cantering, however, while Johnny Murtagh was also happy aboard Born To Sea, whose trainer, John Oxx, had talked about dropping the supposed miler to seven furlongs, but let him take his chance over the 12 furlongs of the Derby.

Camelot soon forged ahead, although he veered left, but Born To Sea then made a race of it. Camelot battled on, however, and asserted inside the final furlong as a 1-5 shot should.

He is now unbeaten in five races, the last three being Classics, and is the 15th horse to complete the Epsom-Curragh Derby double.

Joseph O’Brien gained another Classic while his father won the Irish Derby for the seventh consecutive year and tenth in all.

Now for the Triple Crown attempt. Racing cannot wait.

Meanwhile, Ile De Re landed a gruelling renewal of the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate to accompany his victory in the Chester Cup last month.

Donald McCain’s dual-purpose performer became the first horse to win both races in the same season since Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s Attivo in 1974.

Jockey Jim Crowley took the bull by the horns on the 5-2 favourite and took over at the head of affairs fully a mile from home at Newcastle.

Two furlongs out he looked a sitting duck for Icon Dream and Crackentorp, but neither could summon up enough energy to get past the doughty winner.

Crackentorp closed to within half a length with Icon Dream the same distance back in third and French Hollow flashing home for fourth.

McCain said: “He got stuck out a bit wide and a bit far back and then got a bit keen, so Jim let him get on with it. It meant he was in front a long way from home but people know our horses, they tend to be in that position often and whenever one has come to him he’s gone again.

“When I saw Graham Lee behind him [on Icon Dream] I was panicking a bit! I had him three weeks before Chester. It was nice to get him home and give him a few quiet weeks.

“Callum Whillans rides him every day and does a great job – I’ve got a great team.”