Camelot bids to defy history and become the first horse to land the Triple Crown since Nijinsky in 1970 when he lines up for the St Leger at Doncaster tomorrow (3.40pm, Saturday).
The 2000 Guineas and Derby winner is a heavy 1/3 odds-on favourite for the final Classic. He is already in the winner’s enclosure according to most pundits’ betting tips. On face value it is hard to disagree, but ‘good things’ do get beaten in this race.
Shergar was a ‘certainty’ in 1981 but only managed fourth to Cut Above. Whether it was the trip or the time of year, after a long season, that denied that legend nobody will really know.
Camelot, however, has been prepared especially for his place in the history books and even modest Aidan O’Brien would love to be the first handler to win all five Classics in a season. That would surely be a feat none of us would ever live to see again.
The main problem with opposing Camelot is the quality of the opposition – or rather lack of it. Camelot could run out of stamina half a furlong from home and still win by half the length of the track. However, in all his races, he has looked a thorough stayer. Even when winning the 2000 Guineas (1m), a mere sprint by comparison to this Doncaster test over a full six furlongs further, Camelot needed every inch of the trip to get his willing nose in front.
It was not dissimilar in The Derby when, for a moment, he appeared to have run out of stamina. In fact the complete opposite was true: he was outpaced and needed further. In the final furlong Joseph O’Brien got the horse motoring to win easily and going away from his field. Based on that performance, he will be better, not worse, over this 1m6f test.
He is bred for a trip, he races like he wants even further that the Derby trip and here he gets it. He will not be beaten because of the trip (whatever anyone says afterwards). He would only be beaten if he runs well below form. But, were he to falter, the best excuse in terms of his stud value is that he did not stay. Nobody wants a sire that excels at 1m6f anyway – at least not for horses that don’t jump obstacles. In that sense defeat could almost add to his value. Only the Coolmore ‘Mafia’ could manufacture such a win-win situation.
Both a positive and a negative is that we have not seen the unbeaten son of Montjeu for over two months, when he won the Irish Derby. You could argue he might have wanted a run or, conversely, that he has been well-prepared. Only the result will tell us which. The lack of serious opposition leaves Ballydoyle a lot of wriggle room if they have pitched it slightly wrong.
Main Sequence, the distant five-length runner-up to Camelot at Epsom, is the distant second favourite at 8/1. He is an improver who has been patiently handled. However there is less stamina in his breeding that in the favourite’s. That said, he does race as if the trip will suit.
If there is an unexposed sort it may be Michelangelo (12/1), who gets the services of substitute jockey Frankie Dettori. Even with extraordinary improvement on his third in the Gordon Stakes, he is not good enough to beat the favourite, though he could stake claims for a place.
Perhaps the biggest negative for Michelangelo is that stable jockey William Buick rejected him in favour of Thought Worthy (11/1). While Buick has got it wrong before, it is hardly a ringing endorsement. Buick has gone with form and his mount undoubtedly achieved enough to stake a claim to runner-up spot when winning the Great Voltigeur at York (narrowly defeating Main Sequence).
Melrose handicap winner Guarantee (16/1) has at least won over this trip, something none of his shorter-priced rivals can boast. He is only officially rated 105 (19lb inferior to Camelot) but he is on the improve. Trainer William Haggas is not a fool and does not over-face his horses, unlike some far less intelligent handlers.
Irish challenger Ursa Major has a pretty set of form figures. While he has no right to be in the same county as Camelot, you could argue a case for him against the rest of the field.
Perhaps the one to have a tickle on each-way is Henry Cecil’s Thomas Chippendale (25/1). Until he ran a below-par race in the Voltigeur he had been improving. His prior run had seen him beat Thought Worthy at Ascot in the King Edward VII stakes. Ignoring that latest disappointment, when he started a shorter price than Thought Worthy, he has form lines that give him the beating of second-favourite Main Sequence too.
St Leger Betting Tips Conclusion
Thomas Chippendale seems forgotten in the betting at 25/1. In a nine-runner field with Bet365 Bookmaker betting a generous ¼ odds 1,2,3, he looks the each-way bet. I don’t expect him to beat the favourite, but he should make the frame. That would pay 6.25/1 for the place part of the bet. Then there is always the chance we hit the jackpot, but that does rely on Camelot’s St Leger run mimicking that of another great champion – Shergar.