Camelot and the ten year Derby itch

Updated: May 28, 2012

Ten years is a long time to wait for anything. When that something is the greatest prize in flat racing that wait must feel incalculably longer. For Aidan O’Brien and his team at Ballydoyle this coming Saturday could very well see a ten years itch been well and truly scratched.

When Camelot is locked into his stall for the Investec Derby at Epsom this Saturday afternoon he will not only carry the hopes and dreams of his connections as he continues on a possible Triple Crown trail, but the desire to fill a gaping hole in the history of Ballydoyle.

When High Chaparral crossed the line from his stablemate Hawk Wing in the 2002 Derby it was Aidan O’Brien’s second success in a row having saddled the brilliant Galileo to win twelve months previously.

Many people believed that O’Brien would establish a stranglehold on the race in the same way as his predecessor, Dr Vincent O’Brien, had on the race when he was a trainer.

Things have not panned out like that. O’Brien has thrown 39 darts at the Epsom Derby and none have hit the bullseye. Horses like Dylan Thomas, himself a future winner of the Arc, Fame And Glory and Rip Van Winkle have all failed to give O’Brien a winner in the race that still defines the thoroughbred.

This year however O’Brien sends a horse into battle that could be on the cusp of joining a rare club of horses that have won both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby.

Camelot has always been held in the highest regard. A wonderfully stunning looking son of the late Montjeu, he was talked about long before he made his debut as a 1/3 for a Leopardstown maiden last summer.

That victory, along with a facile success in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, had people dreaming that maybe, just maybe that Camelot could become one of the greats of recent times.

He had to do it on the track however. When he lined up for the 2000 Guineas history, inexperience and high class rivals were all against him yet he swooped late and fast with a devastating change of speed to nab French Fifteen and land the 2000 Guineas.

That victory opened the floodgates. Conventional wisdom told you that a son of Montjeu couldn’t win a classic over a 1m. Camelot blew that theory out of the water.

The manner in which he stayed on at Newmarket had all the hallmarks of a horse that will be even better for a step up in trip.

His relaxed demeanor in a race will no doubt aid his chances as will his jockey Joseph O’Brien who showed an awful lot of courage to ride Camelot in the way that he did at Newmarket.

Should Camelot win on Saturday, it will not only cap a fantastic year for his young jockey but it will bookend ten years of frustration for the Ballydoyle/Coolmore axis. Time may not wait for any man but on Saturday the time will have come for Aidan O’Brien to take his place in the winning circle at Epsom. We don’t have long to wait.

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