The high-class Camelot gave us all plenty of excitement last term as he went closer than any horse in the forty years to emulating the legendary Nijinsky, the last horse to land the British Triple Crown way back in 1970, writes Elliot Slater.
This season Camelot has to show that he remains as good if not better as a four-year-old and trainer Aidan O’Brien is mapping out a campaign that will take in some of the biggest events on the European racing calendar, including a bid for the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in mid-June, a race that many observers believe will be his first serious test this campaign and possible profitable Royal Ascot bet.
The winner of the Racing Post Trophy as a juvenile, the son of Montjeu landed the 2000 Guineas on his three-year-old bow, getting up in the dying strides to catch French Fifteen before routing the opposition over half a mile further in the Investec Derby at Epsom.
He followed up in bad ground in the Irish Derby at the Curragh four weeks later, then after a mid-season break came back to bid for the Triple Crown at Doncaster in the St Leger.
Riding to conserve his mount’s stamina Joseph O’Brien let Encke get first run on him in the straight, and although Camelot stayed on well he failed by just three-quarters-of-a-length to emulate Nijinsky, an effort that had clearly taken its on him as he looked a tired horse when seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp the following month.
Already this term O’Brien’s star colt has won in workmanlike fashion on his reappearance against ordinary opposition in Group 3 company at the Curragh. He returns to the Curragh for his Royal Ascot prep race in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup on May 26, after which – if all goes well – he will head for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (then possibly the Coral Eclipse), as he bids to prove himself the world’s best middle-distance performer.