Aidan O’Brien may give Camelot a chance to redeem himself at Sandown

Ballydoyle trainer also leaves Declaration Of War and Mars in Coral Eclipse

Joseph O’Brien and Camelot: The Aidan O’Brien star is among the entries for Saturday’s Coral Eclipse at Sandown

Joseph O’Brien and Camelot: The Aidan O’Brien star is among the entries for Saturday’s Coral Eclipse at Sandown


The last decade and a half has provided ample evidence that Aidan O’Brien’s judgment is second-to-none when it comes to big calls but they don’t come any bigger for the champion trainer than deciding whether or not to give Camelot an opportunity to rehabilitate his reputation in Saturday’s Coral Eclipse at Sandown.

Weekend indications were that time could be called on the career of a horse the Coolmore behemoth has invested so much in, both financially and emotionally. Yet O’Brien has left the horse he once described as the best he’s put through his hands among the eight entries remaining in the Eclipse after yesterday’s forfeit stage.

Camelot is joined by his stable companions Declaration Of War and Mars, the sole three-year-old left in the race, but most interest this week will focus on last season’s triple Classic winner whose lustre has been tarnished in the last year with only one win in five starts in a relatively ordinary Listed race at the Curragh in April.

Since then, the Montjeu colt, denied the 2012 Triple Crown by the controversial Godolphin runner Enke has been beaten twice at Group One level by Al Kazeem, including when only fourth in last month’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Afterwards O’Brien said he felt he may have been too easy on Camelot on the back of his colic surgery last autumn, and that he would need to “chase after him a bit”.

However, at the weekend, the Ballydoyle trainer reported that retirement was an option and said: “We’re coming to a stage now where we have to decide whether to let him stretch on or not. He’s a very special horse and we don’t want to do anything wrong by him.”

Surprise call
On the back of that, there was surprise in some circles that Camelot’s name appeared among the Eclipse five-days yesterday but O’Brien also made a surprise call in leaving the Queen Anne hero Declaration Of War in the 10-furlong test. After Ascot, he had said dropping in distance from a mile was an option for that colt.

Instead, some bookmakers yesterday pointed to Mars as a contender to give O’Brien a sixth Eclipse victory, and his first with a three-year-old since Oratorio in 2005. Since then only Sea The Stars in 2009 has won the race for the Classic generation.

The three horses that finished ahead of Camelot at Ascot, Al Kazeem, Mukhadran and The Fugue are all possible to clash again on Saturday.

Fears about fast ground ruining Alive Alive Oh’s shot at Sunday’s Pretty Polly at the Curragh proved redundant as she was found to be in season and missed the race but Tommy Stack’s exciting filly will now be aimed at the Irish Oaks back at HQ in less than three weeks time.

This evening’s Gowran card sees a potentially informative mile maiden where the regally bred Ballydoyle newcomer Indian Maharaja makes his racecourse debut.

A son of Galileo and the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Moyglare Stakes heroine, Again, the colt holds a National Stakes entry in September, as does another son of Galileo making his racecourse bow, Urban Moon. Johnny Murtagh’s colt is a brother to the one-time Derby hope Telescope and cost €150,000 as a yearling.

David Wachman introduces the Rock Of Gibraltar colt No Wunder in this race but the in-form trainer could have better luck in the opening maiden where he runs both Burren Trail and Harpist.

Wayne Lordan’s presence on the latter suggests a drop back to seven furlongs should suit and Ballydoyle’s One True Love appears to be turning into something of a bookmaker’s pal.

Forester should have no trouble with the forecast quick going in the €20,000 handicap based on his first start of the season at Navan