O'Brien within sight of the grail with Camelot's Triple Crown bid

 

Ballydoyle

The life-size bronze of Nijinsky that welcomes visitors to this thoroughbred empire has a particular resonance this week. Forty-two years ago the great horse emerged from the gates to become the most recent winner of the rarely achieved racing Triple Crown as he added the St Leger to his 2,000 Guineas and Derby victories. On Saturday, Camelot will head to the oldest, longest and toughest Classic test with the same holy grail in his sights.

But his trainer Aidan O'Brien has the present, not the past, in his thoughts. "We're not thinking of the history books," he said yesterday. "They are for people to look back at in the future. We're doing this for now, for the good feeling on the day, for the satisfaction of achievement for the team here and for the pleasure it will give those who see it."

Should Camelot, who is the 1-3 favourite for the £550,000 Ladbrokes-sponsored prize, prevail, he will fulfil a long-held ambition for O'Brien, who recently followed his namesake and predecessor at Ballydoyle, Nijinsky's trainer Vincent, with the award of an honorary doctorate. "It's always been a dream to find a horse to do this," he said, "but sometimes you don't speak dreams out loud, you keep them to yourself. But now we're so close to it coming true we hardly dare breathe, hardly dare talk about it. We just get on with each day, try to keep focused, try to take care. There are always accidents with horses, but accidents don't just happen, they're caused by events back along the line. Right now, we're in the zone."

The Triple Crown, achieved only 15 times in 202 years, requires a combination of the speed, stamina, durability, courage and class to win at the top level over a mile in the spring, a mile and a half in the summer and an extended mile and three-quarters in the autumn.

It is a special test that requires a special horse. As O'Brien watched Camelot skim smoothly in his exercise yesterday, in the silken hands of work rider Kaname Tsuge, and then pick at grass quietly under a 350-year-old oak tree, he was almost in awe of the dark bay colt's capabilities.

"He is flesh and blood," he said, "but from day one there has been a different aura about him, which allowed me to start dreaming. He's sharp-minded and intelligent, but allows himself to relax. He's an unusually independent thinker; he's not one to be led by example and doesn't look for company. He's happy not to be one of the herd."

Camelot gallops with an unusually long and low action. "He hardly rises from the ground," said O'Brien, "His movement is very efficient. And I think he must have unusually large heart and lung capacity. His recovery rate after a race is extraordinary, he doesn't blow and heave like most horses. His name is mystical, and so is he."

The St Leger, for which the son of Montjeu was one of 11 confirmed at yesterday's penultimate stage, will represent Camelot's most daunting test. "He'll be going beyond his comfort zone for the first time," said O'Brien, "and if there is a slight worry, it's that in putting on weight over the summer he now looks a bit more like a miler than long and lean like a stayer. But he's had only three runs this season and his coat is still tight and he's fresh and happy."

Whether or not Camelot races on next year has yet to be decided, but it is no secret that the box that once housed his late sire is waiting for him at Coolmore Stud. "We would love to keep him," said O'Brien, "and nothing has been discussed beyond the St Leger, But it may be decided that his genes are too unique and important to risk."

This area of Co Tipperary is overlooked by Slievenamon mountain and legend has it that warrior prince Finn McCool chose as his bride the first from a group of women to race the 2,365 feet to the summit. It seems, then that speed, stamina and determination have long been qualities cherished in these parts.

Turf account: today's selections

CHRIS MCGRATH'S NAP: Cosmic Halo (4.20 Leicester)

Bred to flourish with a test of stamina and not only upped in trip after a staying-on effort last time.

NEXT BEST: Mighty Clarets (5.20 Leicester)

Course and distance winner who is consistent, is dropping down the ratings and has run well in this type of contest before.

ONE TO WATCH: Albany Rose (Rae Guest) blew her chance with a stumble at the start last time when returning from a break but finished notably strongly.

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
news
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
life
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
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

Research and Insight Analyst (Mathematics Graduate)

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

IT Support Manager - Staffordshire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Manager - Near...

Nursery assistants required for day to day roles in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone