St Leger: O’Brien taking nothing for granted with Camelot

The unbeaten three-year-old Camelot goes for the Triple Crown at Doncaster on Saturday in the Ladbrokes St Leger and he will be the first horse for 42 years to achieve the feat if successful.

His trainer Aidan O’BrienĀ  today talked about being associated with the 1/3 favourite for the final classic at a media visit at Ballydoyle, Tipperary, Ireland, organised by Ladbrokes and Doncaster Racecourse.

O’Brien said: “Camelot will work at half speed from tomorrow onwards and will travel to Doncaster on Saturday.

“Everything has been good so far, although there are always worries.

“We always had it in our heads that he would have three or four runs this year. After Epsom, our grass gallop was flooded and all his work was on the woodchip.

“When he ran in the Irish Derby, I don’t think I have ever known the ground so heavy at the Curragh. He runs very low to the ground, not rising much, so it was very touch and go whether he would run. He went through the race very easily, only racing for two furlongs – he just couldn’t quicken in the same way that day.

“We gave him a good break and his weight started to increase which was unusual. He will be heavier for the St Leger than he has been going into any other race but with three-year-olds they often don’t change until later in the year.

“His body is built more like a miler in that he is round and strong as opposed to angular and lean. That is a little thing that would be in your mind.

“After his races, he just stands there and doesn’t blow which is very unusual. Most horse are bit agitated after a race. I think he must have a tremendous heart and lung capacity.

“We are in the zone where you don’t want to talk about things – you just want to keep everything smooth. None of us know what is going to happen tomorrow. Accidents never just happen, they are always caused along the line. There is always a list of circumstances which cause accidents.

“We just have to try and cover everything. It is a fickle time but we just have to stay focused.

“We have to prioritise – we think Camelot is like no other horse. Who knows what is going to happen – we don’t take anything for granted. We will do our very best – it’s all we can do.

“We knew that Sue (Magnier) had the name Camelot for 10 years, since the last Derby winner and we were not going to influence her in any way. She made her own mind up about it.

“It is a mystical kind of name and everything about this horse has not been normal.

“We (O’Brien and his wife Annemarie) breed horses – you don’t look for just speed anymore, it is class you look for (in stallions). They have to have speed, stamina and courage – they are the three most important things when you are breeding horses. The Ladbrokes St Leger will expose the last two.

“Camelot has always done things of another standard – different to any other horse. He showed his versatility from the start and anything he was asked to do he did.

“We have a had a lot of horses since we came here and many have failed their tests and not got near the final exam, or we never dreamt of asking them to sit it because we did not think there was any chance of them passing it.

“He is very unusual. To be going for the Triple Crown is something I could never dream of happening. There are still days to go and then we will see what happens. That is the reality of it.

“I heard Lester (Piggott) saying the Leger was nearly two miles and you are asking a Guineas winner to run two miles, pulling him way beyond his comfort zone. There are a lot of things that could happen.

“We take every day as it comes and try and do our best to have him as good as we can have him. That’s all we really can do. He nearly has to be a Gold Cup horse to get that trip.

“Our experience of having Guineas horses and the different trip horses shows that when go beyond a mile and a half that is when real stamina has to kick in.

“We ran a lot of horses in the Gold Cup that failed before Yeats came along. Some horses go there and it takes so much out of them they never go back there. Extreme distance can break hearts. The Triple Crown is the full test of the three-year-old.”

When asked if Camelot would stay in training as a four-year-old, O’Brien said: “We always want that but I know for the breed he is very unique and very important. Personally, we want him to race on because that is what we do but I know he is unique and always there is a danger that something could happen to him. It could happen in a paddock but when you are training them, they are more at risk. It would be a dream come true if he was still around next year.

“Nothing has been discussed past the Leger and everyone is even afraid to talk to each other.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *