O’Brien’s Camelot is out of the frame as Doyle scores 891/1 treble
Duntle wins at Royal Ascot for second year running
James Doyle riding Al Kazeem (right) wins the Prince of Wales Stakes ahead of Paul Hanagan riding Mukhadram during day two of Royal Ascot. Photograph: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
As a triple-classic winner Camelot has already accomplished more than most but defeat behind Al Kazeem in yesterday’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot finally looks to have shattered the myth of the Montjeu colt being some equine ideal in the mould of Frankel or Sea The Stars.
The hugely-hyped Aidan O’Brien-trained star was a well-backed favourite to reverse Curragh form with Al Kazeem, and got a perfect tow in the race from his big rival. Yet when push came to shove, it was the English runner that quickened best to overhaul a pace-forcing Mukhadram who looked like having stolen the Group One feature for much of the straight.
Camelot struggled home in fourth and understandably Aidan O’Brien was quick to make allowances for how last year’s Guineas and dual-Derby hero is still on a comeback trail after serious colic surgery last Autumn. The Eclipse could be his next target and Camelot may indeed return to top-flight winning form later this season. However, a sole Listed success in his last five starts is hardly a record to rank with the true greats.
“They will tell you a big operation will take at least four months for a wound to heal and I’ve never really chased him. We’ve been letting the racing bring him on but maybe it’s time to chase him,” said O’Brien who’d earlier won the Jersey Stakes with Gale Force Ten. “We are very conscious of what he’s been through but maybe we’re at the stage where he needs to be chased after a bit.”
It mightn’t have been as self-flagellating a statement as after So You Think was beaten in the Prince Of Wales two years previously but the champion trainer did appear to be ultra-forgiving of a colt that he has invested so much hope in.
Al Kazeem has never been touted as the next big thing but the slow-maturing five-year-old now looks in pole position for prime mile-and-a-half races such as the King George and ultimately the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October. That he has James Doyle on his back is no black mark either since no jockey can have made a more definitive first impression on Royal Ascot than the 25-year-old Englishman.
Al Kazeem was a first ever winner at the meeting for a rider whose career was in such freefall just three years ago that he booked himself a place on a plumbers course. That Doyle, a Cambridge born son of former trainer Jacqui Doyle, subsequently added a Royal Hunt Cup on Belgian Bill and the Queen Mary on Rizeena in the following two races provided a 891/1 hat-trick to beat anything a u-bend might offer.
“I’d have taken one, but three is unbelievable,” said Doyle who subsequently went to Kempton for a couple of rides. “It’s nice when it all comes together!”
Roger Charlton has been central to Doyle’s career resurrection and it has long been the trainer’s dream to have an Arc winner. He believes Al Kazeem’s rate of improvement can see him pitch up at Longchamp as a contender.
“I thought for a minute we weren’t going to get there but James seemed confident,” he said. “Like most people I’d love to have a runner in the Arc and if we go there maybe the King George would be next.”
Duntle wins again
David Wachman and Wayne Lordan combined to win at the meeting for a second year in a row with Duntle who added yesterday’s Duke Of Cambridge Stakes to her 2012 victory in the Sandringham Handicap.
“She doesn’t win by far but she does enough. The Matron Stakes (disqualified from first) is in the past, it’s history. No we’ll try and win another Group One. The Falmouth at Newmarket is maybe where we’re heading now,” Wachman said.
Gale Force Ten rallied again to score in the Jersey and Aidan O’Brien, saddling his 40th Royal Ascot winner, reported: “He’s a very hardy horse. He had two very good runs in classics and he was probably entitled to do that. I think he could step up to a mile again or drop back to six. Over six he wouldn’t get to the front so quick which might suit him.”
Hint Of A Tint was a well backed Irish hope in the concluding Sandringham but couldn’t make the frame in a race that fell to the Jonathon Portman trained Annecdote who raced on the far side of the straight mile.