Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin/Goodtosoft.co.uk
And so the curtains draw back to reveal the next enthralling chapter in the story of Camelot, a three year old son of Montjeu who has captured the imagination of the British public and revitalised a dormant Triple Crown trail with an incredible zest for racing and an unblemished record of superiority. Unbeaten in his five starts, Camelot is set to attempt to become the first British Triple Crown winner on Saturday, a feat which, if achieved, will mark him down in history as the first Triple Crown winner for 42 years.The 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby have both preceded Saturday's historic bid in the Doncaster St Leger and both were taken down in a style emphatic enough to suggest that, on all known form, the St Leger should be a mere procession for Aidan O' Brien's star.
However, There is something about Camelot that provokes intrigue. His record against his division is undoubtedly impressive yet, to many, this colt is little more than a dominant victor amongst a weak crop. Of the twenty five horses that Camelot has faced in the two legs thus far, just five have returned to win with only one being victorious at the highest level (Power). As the old saying goes, you can only beat what is put in front of you yet there is concern amongst many that Camelot's legacy may be harmed by the level of competition that he is defeating.
When all is said and done, and if Camelot were to reign victorious on Saturday, the history books will not show the level of competition that he has beaten. Instead, they will print his name alongside the names of the three Triple Crown races and reset the clocks yet again for Great Britain's wait for another Triple Crown winner to come along. The horses to attempt the Triple Crown are few and far between, Sea The Stars, arguably one of the greatest European turf horses of all time, failed to attempt the final leg despite winning the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby in 2009.Therefore, surely, whatever our opinions, we should cherish the possibility of a Triple Crown winner being amongst the roll call of one of the greatest years of European turf racing ever? Speculation regarding Camelot is rife, whether it be that he will retire in victory after the St Leger, skip the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe or continue in training as a four year old to enhance his reputation. The sheer fact is that only Coolmore know the answer that'll end that debate, be it sooner or later that they decide to end the story, but for now this is an achievement that may not be matched for many years to come. In the public eye, despite the unique nature of his potential achievements, Camelot has been overshadowed by the ongoing excellence of Sir Henry Cecil's star four year old, Frankel. Should Camelot retire this year, be it as a Triple Crown winner or not, he would go head to head with the Juddmonte star in the breeding sheds. Camelot and Frankel will never meet on the racetrack yet a scintillating star taking on a Triple Crown winner, who would have won over distances varying between a mile and a mile-and-three-quarters, is a mouthwatering prospect.
The Doncaster St Leger is no easy race. A gruelling test of stamina over a mile-and-three-quarters, it is a race that reveals any chinks in a horses armour and stretches every ounce of a horses staying prowess. Rewilding and Sea Moon are just two of the hotly fancied horses to enter the race as the overwhelming, seemingly unbeatable favourites only to be defeated by a charge entered by the maestro of Newmarket that is John Gosden and yet again, waiting in the wings with a double handed entry, is Gosden, a man familiar in name to American shores and one who has dominated Group 1 races in Europe this season. Whilst his stunning three year old filly Great Heavens targets the Prix Vermeille, a Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe trial, at Longchamp on Sunday, the duo of Michelangelo and Thought Worthy both enter in a bid to complete a memorable hat trick in the race for Gosden.
With victory in 2010 and 2011 with Arctic Cosmos and Masked Marvel fresh in the memory, it would be foolish to write off Gosden's chances in this race. Thought Worthy was last seen winning the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York under a fantastic front running ride by William Buick and, in doing so, reigned supreme over Main Sequence, Thomas Chippendale and Encke who all reoppose in this race. However, unlikely to get things his own way on Saturday, it is probable that his unexposed stable mate, Michelangelo, may get the better run of the race. Unable to capitalise on his early season promised in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, Michelangelo comes into this race fresh and with a fair bit to prove but with the potential to upset. Gosden also enters Dartford, an ex-Juddmonte ownerthree year old, to ensure a testing pace that should benefit his duo.
William Haggas' Guarantee and the intriguing Ursa Major complete the field in a race which is likely to captivate racing audiences across the world as Camelot bids to seal his place in history.
Photo Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)