Camelot yet to prove O’Brien claim that he’s the best

The renewal of a partnership in yesterday’s Arc that had rarely worked together for the past five years prompted speculation in some quarters that it could become a regular sight during next year’s flat season. Frankie Dettori rode Camelot for the Aiden O’Brien/Coolmore team, a move which could further undermine his position as a key employee of rivals Godolphin.

The owners of Camelot played down any suggestion that they were lining up a move for Dettori’s services on a regular basis next year, with one of them, Derrick Smith, simply saying, “Frankie was available to us and we like to get the top jockeys when they are available.”

Camelot was sent off favourite for the race, and despite having Dettori on board, could finish no better than seventh place, demonstrating again that this is a particularly difficult race for three year olds to win. The jockey said afterwards, "It was just a long season took its toll. I had a perfect trip and he took me beautifully into the straight on the bridle, but just as soon I knew we were in trouble and in fairness to the horse he's been going for some time since the Guineas."
Although the Arc was not the primary end of season target for Camelot – that had been the failed attempt at the Triple Crown in the St Leger- victory would have gone some way to lifting the stock of a disappointing Classic generation this season. As it was, O’Brien still has tremendous faith in his horse, and maintains he is the best horse he has ever trained.

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Of yesterday’s race he said, “He’s had a long hard season and it was very bad ground. It was sporting of the lads to have a go, but Joseph always said he wants better ground. I didn’t think so before the race, but the Leger obviously left its mark. He’s done an awful lot for a three year old.”

But O’Brien was keen to look forward to next season, and play up expectations of the horse. He said, “I always thought a mile and a quarter was his perfect distance but that he would get a mile and a half. Next year he could go a mile, a mile and a quarter, and probably a mile and a half. If he has a good winter he’ll be something unbelievable next year. I’ve no doubt he’s the best I’ve trained and everyone will see it next year.”

To me, that sounded like an attempt to paper over the cracks for a horse for whom expectation has overshadowed achievement. True, you can’t take away the fact that Camelot won the 2,000 Guineas and both the English and Irish Derby this year. But O’Brien’s claims were hedged with ifs and maybes, and it will take a lot next year to convince me that Camelot is anywhere near an outstanding horse.

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5 replies
  1. Ian says:

    I read this excellent article about “the myth of Camelot” on Saturday morning and have got the authors agreement to let you all read it – I totally agreed with it prior to The Arc and I think it stands even closer scrutiny now!


    “The myth of CAMELOT” could easily refer to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as in my opinion the credentials of Camelot the horse to be called or considered “a great” are even less credible than some of the myths of Arthur, Merlin and Co!.

    To best prove my point you may like to read the article and then refer to the following link which actually gives a specific report on every race that Camelot has run in and performed in.

    The myth is that Camelot is an “all time great” up there with the best and most famous such as Brigadier Gerard, Nijinsky, Frankel etc.

    Let me attempt to dispel that myth with some pertinent facts and let me make it clear, I am a 100% proud Irishman, I do not seek to rubbish a good horse I merely seek to prove that he is quite possibly the most over-rated horse of the past 20 years.

    Let me ask you a serious question – how do you measure “greatness” ?

    Surely in any sport or indeed in life you can only measure how good you are by standing comparison with your peers and your rivals. Let me give you an example from another sport. If you can compete against and beat known world class performers and beat them regularly you will rightly earn the reputation as a great – in Boxing for example – Mohammed Ali fought and beat some all time greats to win World Titles yet Frank Bruno a nice guy and an average boxer won a World Title by beating a journey-man. It is factual to say both were World Champions but comparison of their records indicates one was a great, the other was merely around at the right place at the right time!

    Let’s therefore analyse the form of Frankel against his peers e.g this year’s 3 year old crop! How good are they and how good therefore is Camelot to be able to beat them as indeed to be regarded as a “great” surely he has to be the best of a “great crop”.

    This is where the myth and the bluster begins to fade like the Arthurian mists and we see the reality of the ability of Camelot when measured against his predecessors.

    In the 2000 Guineas Camelot narrowly won beating an unexposed French horse and 16 other rivals , since that race in early MAY those 17 rivals have won BETWEEN them – just 4 races!

    In the English Derby, aided by his pacemaker, Camelot , I grant you looked very impressive , but his 8 rivals have since early June won a combined total of 1 race (Thought Worthy)

    Camelot then appeared at home in an Irish Derby on heavy ground where he was less than impressive – the subsequent results of his 5 rivals show just 1 race win an inconsequential race at Longchamp!

    So in winning THREE CLASSICS Camelot has beaten a sum total of 28 horses who in over 100 subsequent runs between them have won a total of ……6 races!

    I rest my case that this years 3 year old crop are very SUB-STANDARD to say the least!

    I have no doubt that IF Camelot wins the Arc tomorrow he will be lauded as “an all time great” – what boloney an Arc with no Danedream, no Nathaniel, no Snow Fairy let alone no Frankel – indeed if you take a direct line of form with St Nicholas Abbey (who runs in the Arc) with weight for age allowance it means Camelot would have to beat his stable-mate by something over 20 lengths to be rated on a par with Frankel – lets wait and see how that one pans out as despite the handicap of Joseph O’Brien (we will leave that rant for another week if I am allowed) I confidently predict that St Nicholas Abbey WILL BEAT Camelot tomorrow!

    In closing, I would like to add one final thought! It is easy to be negative so let’s end on a positive!

    If you asked me to name one GENUINELY great horse from Ireland who history will show was great then I would have no hesitation in naming “SEA THE STARS” a horse who deserved ALL the hype Camelot has unfairly received yet rarely if ever got the credit he deserved!

  2. Patrick says:

    I think they are sticking to their story. Interesting to see what happens next yr…….

  3. Jim Hdez says:

    Brilliant post Ian and I totally agree. Laid Camelot to even Place in the Arc.
    Remember very well the ‘Sea the Stars’ Arc. My best friend and pro gambler, had £2000 on him. If memory serves me well, he was odds on, and the way he came through to win definately puts him into the ‘Greats’ list.
    The best horse on the ‘flat’ during my lifetime, has to be Frankel.
    A complete one off Freak.
    I prefer jump racing to flat, and really hope Big Bucks can land his fifth World Hurdle at Chelts in March. My highlight from last year was grabbing 5/2 about Sprinter Sacre.
    This would be a recommended acca :- Big Bucks 11/8,Sprinter Sacre Evens,Quevega Evens and Dawn Approach 6/1(guineas)

  4. Jim Hdez says:

    Matt, congratulations and credit where it’s due. Only just read your Arc post and noticed you tipped 3 outsiders as ew possibilities, and you included the winner !!!!. I had info on Olympic Glory, and managed to grab 5/2 before it got backed into 6/4. Yes, you are correct, he does prefer better ground. I think the 16/1 ante for Guineas, is probably better value then 6/1 Dawn Approach.

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