AIDAN and Joseph O’Brien had yet more reason to celebrate as Camelot raced his way into the history books at The Curragh on Saturday.
At 1/5 the Montjeu colt - the hottest favourite since Orby back in 1907 - battled through the mud to beat Born To Sea and add the Irish Derby to his Epsom victory. Maintaining his unbeaten record, Camelot became the first horse to complete the Epsom/Curragh double.
No trainer has dominated the race like the Ballydoyle maestro O’Brien, who won Ireland’s premier classic for the 10th time, his seventh in succession. O’Brien’s day was capped by a strong showing from Camelot’s jockey, the trainer’s 19-year-old son Joseph.
It was touch and go whether connections would risk Camelot, a confirmed good ground horse, in the heavy ground right up to the morning of the race. However, he showed commendable courage as he fought off his challengers in spite of swerving a furlong and a half out.
Stable companion Astrology set the pace under Shamie Heffernan but went out like a light once the straight was reached where Akeed Mofeed went to the front. His lead was shortlived, however, as Camelot took over at the two furlong marker. With Joseph keeping him up to his work he landed the spoils by a couple of lengths from Born To Sea with the Jim Bolger runner Light Heavy nine lengths further in arrears.
Plans for Camelot are still to be finalised, but it looks very likely that he will after all have a crack at the St Leger and attempt to become the first colt since the great Nijinsky in 1970 to land the Triple Crown. This would mean that he will not contest the Juddmonte Stakes at Goodwood, where he could encounter Frankel.
Born To Sea, a half-brother to Galileo and three-parts brother to See The Stars ran his best race so far, seeing out the trip well in spite of suspected stamina limitations. Indeed Born To Sea looked a real danger when Johnnie Murtagh threw down the gauntlet at the furlong pole, but he was never able to get to the winner.
The decision of Jim Bolger to allow Light Heavy take his chance was also a brave one. The son of Teofilo, which won both our Derby Trials, was never travelling in the ground but hopefully it will not leave a mark as he looks like developing into a very smart staying animal.
It is something of a rarity to see Dermot Weld saddle a 20/1 winner but such was the case when the newcomer Rawaaq swooped late to take the opening two-year-old maiden at the expense of the Bolger runner Leitir Mor.
Weld made no secret of the fact that he thought the conditions were all against his charge, but she was ready to start off. As a consequence she was friendless in the betting market, with many punters plunging on the O’Brien runner George Vancouver. George looked like he was going to deliver a furlong and a half down but he emptied quickly once challenged by Leitir Mor. Just as the crowd was shouting Kevin Manning’s mount home Rawaaq arrived on the scene to quickly settle the issue to the tune of two and a half lengths.
Weld revealed that he holds the winner in high regard. Although she hated the conditions she will improve considerably once the ground dries out. The trainer is targeting a Group race in just over a month’s time for the daughter of Invincible Spirit.
Kilkenny-born but Fethard-based Joe Murphy got his name on the scoresheet when Rock On Ciara landed the hugely competitive 72-97 fillies handicap over seven furlongs.
Easy to back the daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar was never too far out of her ground. She shot to the front at the furlong marker and went away to record an impressive four and a half length success over Redoutable. Murphy intimated post-race that the Stillorgan Handicap at Leopardstown is the next objective.
David Wachman, who has his string in fine fettle, was on hand to greet Probably which turned over the favourite Cristoforo Colombo in the Group Two Railway Stakes over six furlongs for juveniles. A fine big son of Danehill Dancer, Probably arrived to challenge the favourite a furlong or so out. He came off the line inside the last furlong, but rider Billy Lee quickly straightened him out before hitting the wire a length and three-parts to the good.
Wachman reported post-race that the winner always showed plenty at home. He will not be over-raced this term with a view to his three-year-old career, but will contest at least one of the better juvenile races at the end of the Summer.
Killenaule handler Andy Slattery caused a 20/1 upset when An Saighdiur, under a cracking ride from Michael Cleere, landed the extended six furlong handicap.
A smart performer on the all-weather circuit, the Acclamation gelding was always in the firing line. He edged ahead two down and with Cleere keeping him up to his work had a length and a half to spare at the line. The winner returned to a great reception from his owners, The Men of 48 Syndicate.