Things We Learned » Camelot magic

Camelot magic

Camelot obviously looked very good in winning the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday.  The time wasn’t great – comparatively slower than the time that Gusto recorded in winning the juveniles’ listed race over six furlongs a half an hour earlier – and you could easily argue that the competition on the face of it fell some way short of a typical Group 1 contest, but sometimes you just have to trust your eyes, sometimes the visual impression of a racehorse’s performance is the correct impression, more than the corresponding figures.

On top of that, while runner-up Zip Top had been beaten in a Group 3 contest on his previous run, and the third-placed Fencing had only won a listed race, those two were probably capable of much more than they had shown before Saturday.  Zip Top didn’t handle the Dip at Newmarket on his previous run, yet he still finished third in a race has worked out extremely well, with the fourth horse winning a Group 1 race subsequently and the fifth horse winning a listed race, and he was almost certain to improve for the step up to a mile and the move to a flatter track.  Fencing was most impressive in winning his listed race, and he is obviously held in really high regard by his astute trainer.

That said, while Camelot obviously has pace, he is much more a Derby prospect than a Guineas prospect.  The Racing Post Trophy is a Derby pointer, not a Guineas pointer.  Three of the last 10 winners of the race went on to win the Derby, and one of them went on to win the St Leger.  Camelot is by Montjeu, he is from a middle distance family, and his only sibling who has raced is the David Wachman-trained Ideal, who recorded her sole success in a 10-furlong maiden last May.

Aidan O’Brien blamed himself after his 2009 Racing Post Trophy winner St Nicholas Abbey got beaten in the following year’s 2000 Guineas.  With fellow Ballydoyle colt Power’s credentials as a live Guineas contender beyond question, it may be that Camelot goes down the Ballysax-Derrinstown road to Epsom, instead of having all his screws tightened for Newmarket in early May.

Good Days

Days Hotel’s win in what looked like a good two-mile beginners’ chase at Punchestown on Wednesday – a race that has been won in the recent past by Schindlers Hunt, Forpadydeplasterer and Noble Prince – only served to put another arrow in trainer Henry de Bromhead’s quiver as the new National Hunt season swings into gear.

Of course, there are established stars at Knockeen, Cheltenham Festival winners like Sizing Europe, Sizing Australia and Berties Dream – who made a most encouraging debut for his new trainer at Thurles last week – and Jewson Chase third and Powers Gold Cup second Loosen My Load, but de Bromhead also has an unprecedented depth of potential at his disposal.

As well as Days Hotel, who was obviously just biding his time over hurdles last season, de Bromhead also has young horses like recent Cheltenham winner Sizing Symphony, recent Cork runner-up Absolutlyfantastic, and Darwins Fox, impressive winner of a good listed hurdle race at Naas last January.  Casa Jove’s win in a maiden hurdle at Clonmel at Thursday at 40/1 made it two wins from two runners for de Bromhead this week. This is a yard on the up.

Fenton fire

The loss of a horse of Dunguib’s talent for a season would be a blow to any stable, but to a relatively small yard like Philip Fenton’s, it should have been a hammer blow.  Far from wallowing in self-pity, however, Fenton is apparently busy working with the talent that he does have at his disposal instead of lamenting the talent that he doesn’t, and, in recent winners Pineau De Re and Last Instalment, he has at least two horses who could have him playing at the top tables this season.

Euro raid

If you subscribe to the notion that, when you go beyond Europe’s borders to compete against the Aussies or the Yanks, Ryder Cup-esque, we are all in it together, then you may get your blue flag down from the attic after racing this evening.  With the European challenge for the Breeders’ Cup turf races set to be as strong as it has been for years, backed up by So You Think’s engagement in the Classic, and with Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup field looking like it could be the Irish Field St Leger field or the Prix Royal-Oak field, there could be a lot of Euro-flag-waving going on over the next seven days.

Justice well

Without being too parochial about it, if justice has anything to do with it, then Ruby Walsh’s appeal against the five-day ban that he received for the ride that he gave Edgardo Sol to win the two-mile novices’ handicap chase at Aintree last Saturday will be successful.

© The Irish Field, 29 October 2011