O’Brien has had some of the greatest racehorses of the modern era pass through his hands since taking over the reins at Ballydoyle in the mid-90’s, but claims none compare to a three-year-old Montjeu colt he describes as “an incredible talent.”
It is 42 years since the great Nijinsky claimed the holy grail of 2000 Guineas, Derby and Leger, the first time it had been done since Bahram in 1935.
Only 15 horses have completed the treble in Turf history – although Pommern, Gay Crusader and Gainsborough are not generally recognised as their races were all run at Newmarket during the First World War and all three won a race known as the September Stakes, which was a replacement for the Leger.
No horse has attempted the feat since the Vincent O’Brien-trained Nijinsky, who, like the unbeaten Camelot, was housed at Ballydoyle.
Camelot has purposely been given time to prepare for this ultimate test, having not been seen since completing the Derby double at the Curragh in late June.
It also promises to be a landmark day for O’Brien from another point of view, as victory in the Leger would mean he would become the first to train all five British Classic winners in a single season.
Aside from Camelot, the O’Brien-trained Homecoming Queen won the 1000 Guineas while Was landed the Investec Oaks.
O’Brien said: “We’ve had great horses all through the years and you always hope something different will come along again and then when he (Camelot) arrived it was just incredible.
“He’s an incredible talent really. One of those very special horses, one that only comes once in a lifetime.
“We are in the zone where you don’t want to talk about things – you just want to keep everything smooth.
“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 (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 Leger will expose the last two.
“To be going for the Triple Crown is something I could never dream of happening. Extreme distance can break hearts. The Triple Crown is the full test of the three-year-old.”
Main Sequence was five lengths adrift of Camelot when runner-up in the Epsom Derby and reopposes on Town Moor this weekend.
Trainer David Lanigan admits it will be difficult to turn the tables, but is keen to give it a go as both horses step up from a mile and a half to a mile and three-quarters.
Lanigan said: “He had a canter this morning and he seems in really good form.
“We all know Camelot is going to be very hard to beat, but we’ll give it a go.”
Joining Camelot on the trip across the Irish Sea is Tommy Carmody’s fast-improving colt Ursa Major, winner of the Irish St Leger trial at the Curragh.
The St Leger is one of the few major races still eluding top jockey Johnny Murtagh, but he feels Ursa Major has plenty going for him.
He said: “He’s a three-year-old and we’re never going to have the chance to run in a Classic again.
“It’s not a one-horse race, Camelot has to turn up, he has to perform and he has to run over a mile and six and a half furlongs, but obviously he has the best form by far.
“My horse is a nice stayer, he’s done nothing but improve, so we’re looking forward to it.”
The last of Henry Cecil’s four Leger heroes was Michelozzo in 1989 and this year he saddles Thomas Chippendale, who carries the colours of Yorkshireman Robert Ogden.
Ogden’s racing manager, Barry Simpson said: “We’re perfectly happy with him and his work has been good.
“Realistically we know Camelot is above all the rest, but equally, if you discount the pacemaker, there are seven other horses in the race that are very closely matched.”
John Gosden has saddled the last two St Leger winners and four in all.
He has a formidable hand with Thought Worthy and Michelangelo joined by expected pacemaker Dartford.
Gosden said: “Thought Worthy has been fine since York where he showed he’s a very game horse. He’s from a family of tough staying horses.
“Michelangelo has done nothing wrong in his four races. He was third in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, which is not everybody’s track.
“He was staying on well at the end of that race and so did Arctic Cosmos before winning the Leger two years ago.”