The patience and faith shown by Roger Charlton in nursing Al Kazeem back from injury were conspicuously justified. Just as the five-year-old demonstrated last year that he owned a progressive, exciting talent, his campaign ended prematurely with a fractured pelvis.
But 12 months on it is clear that the powerful son of Dubawi has retained all his ability, and perhaps developed a bit more. His immediate victim in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh was none other than last year's 2,000 Guineas and Derby hero Camelot.
There seemed no fluke about the defeat of the 4-11 favourite who, like 9-4 shot Al Kazeem, had started his season with a warm-up victory in a lesser contest. In a four-horse field the pair duly swept past the two outsiders in the straight and Joseph O'Brien sent Camelot into the lead two furlongs out.
But James Doyle had the move covered and Al Kazeem, travelling strongly, did not need much urging to surge past his rival in the last five strides to go a length and a half clear.
The 10-furlong contest was Al Kazeem's first Grade One race, and the first victory at that level for Doyle. "Roger always said we'd get him back," he said, "and while you have to respect Camelot for what he's done, passing the two pole I couldn't believe how well I was travelling."
John Deer's homebred has now entered the arena as a player in the elite middle-distance scene and is rated a 5-1 chance for the Eclipse Stakes and 12-1 for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Camelot has also suffered physical vicissitudes – he survived colic surgery during the winter – and is still on course for the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.
His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, confirmed that the rising Ballydoyle star Magician, an impressive winner two days ago of the Irish 2,000 Guineas, would be among seven from the Co Tipperary stable left in Saturday's Investec Derby at today's penultimate whittling down of the entries. The field for the Epsom showpiece will be finalised on Thursday.
Today's Irish 1,000 Guineas also went to a British raider and was also a race of firsts as Just The Judge gained sweet compensation for her narrow defeat in the 1,000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile three weeks earlier. The Lawman filly's comfortable length and a half success under Jamie Spencer provided a first Classic, and first Group One prize, for her trainer Charlie Hills and a first Classic for racing's newest high rollers, Sheikh Fahad al-Thani and his family from Qatar.
Hills took over the licence at his family's Lambourn operation in the latter part of 2011 from his father, Barry, who won the Irish Guineas 14 years ago with Hula Angel and 20 years ago with Nicer. Just The Judge, the 2-1 favourite, led inside the final furlong; behind her Rehn's Nest, at 40-1, snatched second from Just Pretending on the line.
Just The Judge now faces a rematch with her Newmarket conqueror Sky Lantern in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. "She's a diamond filly," said Hills, "very easy to deal with and a real professional."
Chris McGrath's Nap
Equity Risk (2.25 Leicester) Made an eyecatching start to his second campaign with a fine second place on the all-weather and, given his nightmare wide draw then, can be rated better.
Clon Brulee (4.00 Redcar) Turns out swiftly under a penalty after winning on the bridle on his seasonal debut last week. His capable trainer is bang in form.
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