Camelot claims Irish Derby


It wasn’t particularly pretty but Camelot remains unbeaten and Aidan O’Brien is now the most successful trainer in this country’s classic history after a two length success in this evening’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

On very testing ground Camelot couldn’t exhibit the acceleration that took him to Derby victory at Epsom earlier in the month but he still had enough to become the 16th horse to complete the English-Irish Derby double. He emulated the legendary Nijinsky by also having the English Guineas under his belt and the way is now open for him to try and emulate the former Ballydoyle great again by completing the English Triple Crown in September’s St Leger at Doncaster.

But there was a moment outside the furlong pole when those heavy-hitters who’d backed Camelot into 1-5 favourite must have sweated as he jinked to the left when hitting the front and Born To Sea momentarily looked like giving him a fight. Jockey Joseph O’Brien had to ask Camelot to stretch out and at the line his superiority was undoubted despite ending up in the middle of the track.

“I was very worried on the turn-in. It’s very heavy ground. They’re barely getting through it. But he showed his class and his heart,” O’Brien Jnr, riding his first Irish Derby winner, said.

The 1-5 SP made Camelot the shortest priced Irish Derby winner in over a century and as well as giving Aidan O’Brien a seventh Irish Derby in a row, and a 10th in all, it also gave the champion trainer a unique place in Irish racing history.

Camelot was his 28th Irish classic victory, taking him one ahead of his Ballydoyle predecessor, the legendary Vincent O’Brien. At just 42 years of age, the modern boss of the world’s most famous training establishment looks about to re-set the parameters of racing achievement.

“Joseph has always said he is a good ground horse so we weren’t sure how he’d do on the ground,” O’Brien Snr said. “But he’s a wonderful horse.”

The runner up Born To Sea ran a fine race and had nine lengths in hand of the third horse Light Heavy. “I thought I had it when I got to within three quarters of a length of Camelot but in the last 150 yards he died a bit,” Born To Sea’s jockey Johnny Murtagh said. “On better ground we might have made him work harder. But mine’s a good horse.”

Camelot could graduate to classic greatness though by pulling off the Triple Crown and is rated only 1-4 by Ladbrokes by the Leger sponsors Ladbrokes. He is also ante-post favourite for the Prix de l’Arc Triomphe in October. “The Leger is still very much alive. It’s a possible,” said the Coolmore boss John Magnier.

Just five lined up for the €1.25 million classic after Speaking Of Which and the other Ballydoyle declaration Imperial Monarch were taken out due to the testing ground conditions. Bright sunshine reigned for the Derby though and a large crowd was on hand on the first Saturday evening date for Ireland’s premier classic. Also new was the Derby’s positioning as the last race on the card, following the lead of many top American events including the Classic at the prestigious Breeders Cup meeting.

Earlier the Coolmore Stud team had emerged best in the Group 2 Railway Stakes but it was with neither of the Aidan O’Brien pair, rather David Wachman’s Probably who stayed on too stoutly for Cristoforo Colombo. Johnny Murtagh was out of luck in the Derby but had earlier won the Group 3 sprint on Definightly as well as the Listed Celebration Stakes on Sharestan.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.