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Top of the class
(AFP) / 3 June 2012
Camelot added his name to the Derby roll of honour here on Saturday, Aidan O’Brien’s red hot favourite thrilling an estimated 130,000 crowd including Queen Elizabeth II, at Epsom for the start of her Diamond Jubilee weekend celebrations.
The British monarch was treated to a royal gala performance from Camelot who never looked in danger of falling victim to the curse that has befallen three of the past four odds-on favourites in the Derby.
O’Brien’s lanky baby-faced son Joseph, riding with a poise and calm belying his 19 years, steered the 8-13 shot to a five length success over Main Sequence, 9-1.
O’Brien’s Astrology, who led the field round Tattenham Corner and into the famous straight, took third, a short head back.
The result produced an historic first ever father and son success in the blue riband race.
Co-owner Derrick Smith told the BBC: “This is the one everyone wants in racing - to win the English Derby is a dream come true.
“What a ride from Joseph, what a horse.”
After expensive defeats for Entrepreneur, Tenby and El Gran Senor - the last odds-on shot to prevail was the mighty Shergar, at 10-11, in 1981 - Camelot stuck to his script perfectly.
With this success coming on top of his 2,000 Guineas triumph the way is now clear for Camelot to try and emulate Nijinsky’s 1970 feat of landing the Triple Crown, September’s St Leger now standing between him and turf immortality.
Such was Camelot’s reputation, built on substance rather than the myth of the castle after which he was named, only eight rivals took up the gauntlet for the smallest Derby field in 105 years.
With Astrology setting the early pace O’Brien junior had Camelot towards the rear coming down the hill into Tattenham Corner, before making his move in the straight to mow down the leaders and win stylishly.
The winning jockey reported: “He didn’t come down the hill, he didn’t handle the track, but he’s a very special horse.”
Anne-Marie O’Brien, proud wife of the trainer and Joseph’s mother, said: “I can’t believe it, it’s amazing.
“I met Lester Piggott last weekend and he said to tell Joseph not to be in any hurry (in the race). I’m really thrilled, it’s incredible.”
For O’Brien the trainer Camelot’s victory provided him with a third Derby after Galileo in 2001 and High Chaparral in 2002, and ended a run of 39 runners since who failed to hit the Epsom bullseye.
After saddling Was to win Friday’s Oaks it also maintained his stranglehold on the four English classics run this season, with only the one-and-three quarter mile St Leger to come.
One British bookmaker goes as short as 1-3 about the master Irish trainer annexing all five with Camelot in the St Leger.
The unbeaten Camelot was remarkably supplying his sire Montjeu, who died aged 16 in March, with a fourth Derby success in the past eight runnings.
The O’Brien duo’s day, as well as that of Camelot’s owners, was set up perfectly when St Nicholas Abbey won back-to-back runnings of the Group One Coronation Cups at 8-11. — AFP
> 1. Camelot
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