Things We Learned » Camelot Crown

Camelot Crown

The Triple Crown is on, no mistake. In Camelot, we have – as we suspected we might have – a racehorse who could provide the link between the present day and Nijinsky.

You can easily understand why decision-makers have swerved the St Leger in the recent past. As well as the fact that we have reached that bizarre scenario in which you run the risk of making your horse less attractive as a potential stallion to commercial breeders if you win the Leger, there is also the fact that, by running in the final Classic, you probably have a negative impact on your horse’s chance of winning the Arc de Triomphe, a race in which victory will almost certainly significantly enhance your horse’s attractiveness as a stallion.

But there is something about Camelot now in the light of his Guineas win. Perhaps it’s his reputation, perhaps it’s the turn of foot that he showed over a mile, perhaps it’s his connections, but it would be barmy if his value as a stallion now would be diminished if he happened to win the Derby and the St Leger, given that he had the pace to win a Guineas.

On the contrary, any Triple Crown winner would display all the qualities that you look for in a stallion: pace, stamina, durability, soundness of body and mind.

There seems to be a willingness on the part of Team Ballydoyle/Coolmore to at least consider a tilt at the St Leger if Camelot happened to go and win the Derby. You can understand that willingness. The first since Nijinsky. Full circle. And if you had set Camelot’s sights on the Triple Crown at the start of the season, you would have said that the Guineas was going to be the most difficult leg.

It’s on all right.

Charming Chester

You blow your cover as a novice when you have to ask one of the bouncers/security guards to direct you to the press room, but, if you haven’t been yet, a visit to Chester should be on your to-do shortlist.

It isn’t the fact that it appears that the Romans built the city around the racecourse – the owners’ and trainers’ car park is a public car park for city shoppers on non-racedays – nor is it the fact that they have put a paddock and bars in the centre of the track where we have put golf courses, thereby using every square inch of space available (and there aren’t that many of them) to enhance the racegoing experience, such as it is.

It is the racecourse: seven and a half furlongs of left-turning track that you can walk in six and a half minutes, and from where you are required to report to the authorities if you find a piece of white rail that goes straight for more than half a furlong.

Contrast Chester with Newmarket or The Curragh, with their straightnesses and their vast expanses, and the wonder is that the same sport is staged on all three tracks. ‘Tis no wonder there are horses for courses.

Homecoming head-scratcher

There were many heads being scratched after Homecoming Queen’s victory in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday, but, in hindsight, you can at least explain it.

• Having raced twice already this season, she was as fit as a flea in a race and on a day on which fitness mattered.

• On a line through Fire Lily, she only had just over a length to find with the 13/8 favourite.

• She is immaculately-bred.

• Her record on ground softer than yielding going into the race was 121.

• Her record when ridden from the front was 12191.

Importantly, she didn’t steal the race, she didn’t slip her field, she was the winner on merit in a good time, and it would be a mistake to under-estimate the worth of this performance.

Arvika on his way

Arvika Ligeonniere has looked like a high-class staying chasing prospect since his finished fourth behind Al Ferof in a Fairyhouse bumper in December 2009, and he did nothing as a hurdler to jeopardise that notion.

He has had his problems, and Willie Mullins has had to be patient with him, but his chasing debut at Punchestown on Wednesday was well worth the wait. He is rated 11lb superior to runner-up Tom Horn over hurdles, so he was entitled to beat him as well as he did, but Tom Horn is useful, and it was more the manner of Arvika Ligeonniere’s victory that impressed than what he beat.

His jumping was exemplary, accurate and effortless, and he was clever at the third last when he got in a little tight. It was a seamless performance, and the time of the race was really good given that Ruby Walsh was quite literally motionless for the duration of the race.

He is still just seven and, as long as he remains sound, his potential is limitless.

Swinton swindled

So today’s Swinton Hurdle joins the long list of race names that have had their souls traded for a passing sponsor’s buck. Just because it has become a trend doesn’t mean it’s not worrying. Without consistent race names, the season is just a collection of races. If racecourses and sponsors don’t realise this, surely it is up to the authorities to step in.

© The Irish Field, 12th May 2012