The mighty Lester Piggott has spoken for the first time about the prospects of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot emulating his own success in landing the Triple Crown on the legendary Nijinsky in 1970 by winning Saturday’s Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster, writes Elliot Slater.
The 76-year-old all-time great jockey was the last man to achieve the feat, when he partnered the late Vincent O’Brien’s great horse to a famous success on Town Moor, some 42 years ago. However, the ‘Long Fellow’ is confident that the time has now arrived for another horse to add his name to the very short list of British Triple Crown winners.
A man of famously few words, Piggott told reporters recently: “Camelot can emulate Nijinsky”. He went on to add: “he’s a very good horse, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get the trip”.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, and all the way through until the last couple of years, the notion of attempting to add the St Leger to wins in the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby had been the last thing in the mind of most trainers and owners.
Recently, that mindset has changed, and the racing public want to see a horse prove himself at the full range of distances to prove himself a truly outstanding champion.
It is a great credit to trainer, Aidan O’Brien, and Camelot’s triumvirate of Ballydoyle owners that they are letting their unbeaten star go for the St Leger. Should he win, he will set a new modern benchmark for the breed that other subsequent dual classic winners will have to be judged by, making further Triple Crown attempts more, rather than less, likely.
Most people in racing will hope that Lester Piggott’s judgement remains as good as ever, and that we will indeed have a new superstar on the block, just as another, Frankel, gallops off into retirement.