Camelot St Leger decision perplexing

The British press, Doncaster and Ladbrokes, who sponsor the race, are all falling over themselves now, delighted with the news that it looks virtually certain Camelot will head to the St Leger on September 15.

If it comes to pass that he is asked to travel a mile and six and a half furlongs, and there is no reason to think it won’t, then that will represent a very sporting decision on the part of Ballydoyle-Coolmore, but one which is, nevertheless, perplexing.

From a commercial point of view, it makes little or no sense. If Camelot wins at Doncaster then all it will do is emphasise that he has the capacity to make a National Hunt stallion. We can take it that is not in any shape or form on a future agenda.

This is about becoming the first horse since Nijinsky to land the Triple Crown, we know that.

The press in Britain are fascinated by the possibility and so many, even the normally hard-nosed Coolmore outfit, appear to have been simply swept away in a tide of sentimentality.

I’m old enough to more than remember Nijinsky and he was one of the greatest flat horses of all time.

But he achieved the Triple Crown feat way back in 1970 and the world is a far different place now.

The Triple Crown is a relic of the past and belongs to an age that is long gone and can never be reclaimed.

There are those who believe if Camelot wins the St Leger, he will then be spoken of in the same way as Nijinsky and reach out beyond the narrow boundaries of racing.

It won’t happen. The Triple Crown is familiar only to people within the sport and means as much to those outside of racing as its equivalent in rugby means to the die-hard GAA fan. There are still some left who think egg-chasing remains a foreign game!

After the son of Montjeu had won the Irish Derby at the Curragh last Saturday night, he was described by the announcer at the victory presentation as the “legendary Camelot”.

It was, of course, a complete exaggeration and showed that the announcer had joined so many others and totally bought into the hype.

And that’s the problem I have with Camelot and the whole notion of him heading for the St Leger.

Yes, it will be a sporting decision and, I suppose, you can argue will be good for racing if he wins.

But it will reveal nothing new about his true worth. He is far and away the best three-year-old in training, but they really seem to be a motley bunch.

Let’s look, for instance, at what he beat in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The second horse was French Fifteen, who finished seventh of eight at Chantilly last Sunday.

The third, Hermival, was then sixth to Power in the Irish 2000 Guineas, although he did run well when second to Most Improved in the St James’ Palace at Royal Ascot.

The fourth at Newmarket, Trumpet Major, was subsequently tenth of ten to Power at the Curragh.

The fifth, Coupe De Ville, has been beaten three times since, while the sixth and seventh respectively, Fencing and Ptolemaic, have both been beaten twice in the meantime.

Camelot was brilliant in taking the nine-runner Epsom Derby, by five lengths, but not one winner, besides himself, has emerged from that race.

Main Sequence (second), Mickdaam (fifth), Bonfire (sixth, runs at Sandown today), and Rugged Cross (eighth) all have yet to reappear.

The third, Astrology, however, has since been beaten twice, while Thought Worthy (fourth), Minimise Risk (seventh) and Cavaleiro (ninth) have done nothing for the form either.

What it amounts to is that Camelot has no right whatsoever to be spoken about in the same breath as Nijinsky.

He may well be a wonder horse, but there is no evidence right now that such is the case and, until tackling meaningful opposition, then there is really no point in getting excited about him, Triple Crown or not.

Looking at the prize money on offer at the Curragh last weekend really took your breath away and we’re not talking about the Derby, or what the likes of class acts such as Izzi Top or Famous Name took home.

No, a bunch of handicappers are the focus of our attention. Have a glance at this, starting with Ursa Major and €42,000 on Friday night.

And he was followed on Saturday by Rock On Ciara, €33,000, Bold Thady Quill, €36,000, and An Saighdiur, a whopping €51,000. Just as well our old pals, the Troika, weren’t in town!

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox