Encke spoils the party to rob Camelot of the crown

Wait goes on for another Triple Crown winner as hot favourite is undone by slow pace and devastating burst from Goldolphin's outsider

Doncaster

So, the holy grail remains out of reach, even to a horse named Camelot.

Instead of achieving immortality as the 16th winner of the sport's elusive Triple Crown and the first since Nijinsky 42 years ago, the 2,000 Guineas and Derby hero became instead the 10th contender to come up short in the most demanding of the three Classics, the St Leger.

Camelot, the 2-5 favourite, failed by three-quarters of a length to reel in 25-1 shot Encke and left stunned not only the capacity crowd but the Godolphin team responsible for the winner. "We thought he had a solid place chance, but realistically only that," said Simon Crisford, the racing manager to Sheikh Mohammed's operation. "But we're pretty happy to be the party poopers."

Attention was firmly on Camelot beforehand and remained so in the anticlimactic aftermath of the Ladbrokes-sponsored contest. It could hardly be said that colt, trained by Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle and ridden by his son Joseph, was either outstayed or outclassed by Encke, but he may well have been outmanoeuvred.

The first setback for the O'Briens came when Dartford, pacemaker for his John Gosden stablemates Thought Worthy and Michelangelo, took the field of nine along at a sedate gallop. Then, two furlongs from home, came the defining moment.

Camelot was moving easily, but was behind rivals on the rails; Encke, ridden by Mickael Barzalona, came alongside him in the clear and already in full sail. O'Brien set off in pursuit, but his mount did not produce his trademark acceleration and, though he made up three lengths in the final furlong once he engaged his fluid, groundsweeping stride, the blues' bird in front had flown.

O'Brien Snr, typically, blamed himself rather than his teenaged son. "I thought, with a pacemaker in there, that the gallop would have been strong, but I should not have taken that for granted," he said.

"From the start, Joseph was where he should have been, which is what you want on a horse going that distance. He had to get him to relax, but Camelot was just tanking that little bit because of the steady pace. Down the straight he had to take his time and wait for the gaps to come. When they did, the winner was in just that handier position and was gone.

"My regret is not running a pacemaker or two myself. A strong pace would have made it more straightforward because he would have settled a bit earlier. And it is easier to quicken off a fast pace."

O'Brien Jnr, 19, was clearly devastated by Camelot's defeat, too upset to give his version of events. "No one thinks more of the horse than him," said his father. "We were going up in distance, stretching the elastic band, and the way it all panned out he stayed on rather than quickened. That's the reality of it and well done to the winner."

O'Brien Snr missed a unique laurel of his own yesterday, for Camelot would have made him the first trainer to saddle the winners of all five British Classics in the same year. That he was thwarted in both yesterday's ambitions by his arch-rivals, Godolphin, will have made defeat the more bitter for the Ballydoyle stable and their Coolmore Stud backers. The Godolphin team themselves are no strangers to statistical milestones. The progressive and well-bred Encke gave the outfit's newest jockey recruit, Barzalona, who won the Derby last year for Coolmore, his first success in the world's oldest Classic – first run in 1776 – on his first ride.

"I could see Camelot was having difficulty navigating," said the Corsican, "so I kicked and asked my horse to go and he answered very quickly. He was very generous. And today, at least, he was the best."

Godolphin, whose sixth St Leger winner Encke was, are now the most successful owners in the race in the modern era and second only to the 9th Duke of Hamilton, who won seven times between 1786 and 1814.

Encke warmed up for yesterday's task with only a third place, behind Thought Worthy, in a trial at York last month, and trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni deferred to his boss, Sheikh Mohammed, over whether or not the Kingmambo colt should take part. "I thought not," he said, "but it was his decision and he was right and I was wrong.

"I've had two runners before, Rewilding and Blue Bunting, who were both beaten as favourites and today we have won it with an outsider. It can be a funny old game."

The Triple Crown Winners

1853: West Australian

1865: Gladiateur

1866: Lord Lyon

1886: Ormonde

1891: Common

1893: Isinglass

1897: Galtee More

1899: Flying Fox

1900: Diamond Jubilee

1903: Rock Sand

1915: Pommern

1917: Gay Crusader

1918: Gainsborough

1935: Bahram

1970: Nijinsky

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links