O'Brien opens door for Camelot Arc run
Though thwarted in their quest for a first Triple Crown since Nijinsky, connections of Camelot performed a considerable service to the St Leger simply in running him at Doncaster nine days ago. Undaunted, it now seems as though they are contemplating another shot in the arm for the old race.
Nijinsky's subsequent defeats in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Champion Stakes were widely attributed to the effects of a hard race in the Leger – a legacy that had discouraged a Triple Crown bid for the only two eligible candidates since, Nashwan and Sea The Stars. But Aidan O'Brien has indicated that both the Arc and Champion Stakes remain under consideration for Camelot, with a strong hint that the Arc is top of the agenda.
You will not find many who believe for one moment that O'Brien and his patrons at Coolmore Stud might choose a showdown with the epoch-making Frankel, in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on 20 October, to restore the reputation of Camelot. From the moment they decided to stretch him out beyond 14 furlongs in the Leger, it seemed safe to assume that Camelot would not be dropped back to 10 – or not, at any rate, until Frankel was safely out of the way next season.
Even in exposing him to those older horses he would instead meet in the Arc, however, they would handsomely refute suspicions about a reputation built against a very limited crop of three-year-olds. To beat such seasoned international rivals as Danedream, Orfevre and Snow Fairy, above all after enduring a hard race at Doncaster, would give persuasive substance to the terrific style of Camelot's wins in the 2,000 Guineas and Derby.
O'Brien is stressing that no decision has yet been made, but certainly seems receptive to the idea of sending Camelot to Paris if getting the right signals from the colt in midweek. And John Magnier, the Coolmore boss, will remember how Nijinsky had soaked up a much tougher summer schedule than Camelot before running out of fuel after the Leger. Camelot has made only six starts in his entire career.
William Hill responded to O'Brien's comments at Listowel on Saturday by restoring Camelot to their Arc list at 6-1, behind Danedream and Orfevre on 4-1. Nathaniel is also 6-1, with Snow Fairy 7-1. Saonois, the top French three-year-old, is 10-1.
In Camelot's presumed absence, Frankel remains as short as 1-12 with Coral for his swansong. Cirrus Des Aigles, last year's winner, is 5-1 second favourite as he prepares to end a long break with a warm-up in the Qatar Prix Dollar on Arc weekend. Having sold out its initial limit of 30,500 tickets, Ascot has added another 1,500 to go on sale today. That capacity is more than doubled at Royal Ascot, but the organisers have no intention of offering any further increases.
A fairly low-key Sunday, meanwhile, highlighted one potential star in Trading Leather, Jim Bolger's two-year-old Teofilo colt, who won his maiden at Gowran Park in striking fashion by seven lengths.
CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP: Ajjaadd (4.00 Leicester)
A multiple scorer last season and looked on the way back when shaping well from a poor draw on his return from a lay-off at Sandown.
NEXT BEST: Master Bond (2.10 Hamilton)
Looked on a good mark when just collared on his reappearance, and worth chancing on this ground after disappointing on quicker going.
ONE TO WATCH: The Giving Tree (Sylvester Kirk) was very well backed at Sandown last week and showed why, finishing really well for fifth.
WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING: Montaser is 11-1 from 12-1 with Paddy Power for the Betfred Cesarewitch.
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