McCabe's Caspar Netscher strikes a Classic blow for Camelot's also-rans
Camelot so bestrides the Investec Derby that some bookmakers now offer odds that would qualify him as the hottest favourite since Tudor Minstrel was beaten at 4-7 in 1947. Only 11 other colts were left in the race yesterday, four of them from the same stables in Co Tipperary, and he is just 8-13 with Betfred to win on Saturday.
With the sport's other superpowers having failed to muster a rival to the five Ballydoyle colts, the home defence is largely vested in the hands of trainers who have got to Epsom without their support. And they were set a heartening example yesterday when Alan McCabe saddled Caspar Netscher to win the German 2,000 Guineas.
This remarkable colt, still thriving despite a very busy juvenile campaign, had already confounded expectations by winning the Greenham Stakes on his comeback. He then ran ninth in his home Guineas, before being sent on to Cologne yesterday – itself evidence that his trainer has not lost his bearings with his first top-quality colt.
McCabe was suitably rewarded as Shane Kelly found a split along the inside while the other British raider, Red Duke, was held up in traffic. Caspar Netscher ran down the local colt, Amarillo, by a length and a half with Red Duke eventually breaking out for third.
Of course, his success also is a boost to Camelot's form. Should the favourite match his pre-race billing at Epsom, the sport will be divided between those who crave the resuscitation of the British Triple Crown, and others seeking credible challengers to Frankel, as and when the unbeaten miler steps up to the intermediate distance of 10 furlongs.
Connections of Black Caviar, who has achieved parallel stature in Australia, have now finally extinguished the faint hope that she might meet Frankel in the Qipco Sussex Stakes at Goodwood this summer. The sponsors had offered to increase prizemoney for the mile race to £1m, from £300,000, but it always seemed fanciful to imagine Black Caviar might take on Frankel on home turf over a new trip. Her connections should be congratulated, as it is, for being so bold as to bring her to Royal Ascot next month, with the Darley July Cup at Newmarket also an option.
The Sussex Stakes entry closes today and yesterday Jeff O'Connor, racing manager to Peter Moody, confirmed that her trainer would not be nominating Black Caviar. "We feel it would not be the right thing by the racing industry worldwide, giving false hope that the race may happen," O'Connor said.
Back at Epsom on Saturday, meanwhile, there is a Derby-like touch to the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup, with Aidan O'Brien accounting for four of only nine acceptors. At least Godolphin have a possible runner here in Monterosso, the Dubai World Cup winner.
Chris McGrath's Nap: Dark Ages (3.0 Chepstow)
Fallen in the weights enough to be in this poor race but gave signs of renewal for his new stable last time, hampered but regrouping for third.
Next Best: Star Of Rohm (2.10 Ripon)
Pulled miles clear of the rest when a close-up fourth in what looked a decent maiden at the Dante meeting, showing loads of speed. Expected to relish this shorter trip.
One to watch: Seven now, but Noble Citizen (David Simcock) still showed plenty of zip when second to a well-handicapped one at Goodwood last week, after meeting trouble. Good record at Ascot should be noted.
Where the money's going: Thought Worthy is 20-1 from 33s with Paddy Power for the Investec Derby on Saturday, while Shirocco Star is 16-1 from 20-1 with William Hill for the Investec Oaks the previous day.
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