Camelot hot favourite for Derby success

 

RACING:CAMELOT COULD provide a fitting final act to the Curragh’s plans for an American-style build-up to Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt will attempt to become the first horse in a decade to complete the Epsom-Curragh Derby double and is set go off the hottest favourite in decades for the €1.25 million classic.

The Derby is being run on a Saturday evening for the first time and another first will be the race featuring as the last contest on the card with a 7.40 start time.

That is a similar format to big race timing around the world, including the US, where races such as the Breeders’ Cup Classic are the last on the programme.

“The first race will be at 3.40 on Saturday, with the Derby last at 7.40. There are a number of reasons for that. We have looked at big international meetings where they build up the feature race. And after discussions with RTÉ, they were of the view there is a high-profile slot between six and eight that would increase ratings,” said Curragh manager Paul Hensey.

The five-day forfeit stage will take place today with Camelot likely to be joined by other members of Aidan O’Brien’s all-powerful Ballydoyle team. The champion trainer is chasing a 10th win in Ireland’s premier classic and a remarkable seven in a row.

With a significant foreign challenge increasingly unlikely, bookmakers rate Camelot a red-hot favourite. Paddy Power have cut the unbeaten Derby and Guineas winner to 1/4. That was the starting price for El Gran Senor in 1984, the shortest-priced Irish Derby winner of modern times. Other Derby hotpots to win at short odds include the legendary Shergar (1/3) and Nijinsky (4/11.) Powers rate O’Brien’s Imperial Monarch, unlucky in the French Derby earlier in the month, as their 10/1 next best, with Dermot Weld’s Gallinule Stakes winner Speaking of Which one of the third favourites at 12/1.

John Oxx, twice a winner, could be doubly represented with Chester Vase-placed Call to Battle likely to be joined by Akeed Mofeed.

Ground conditions at the Curragh were officially “soft” yesterday but the forecast is favourable over the next couple of days.

“It is supposed to be mostly dry up to and including Tuesday with some showers on Wednesday and Thursday,” Hensey reported. “I would say watering won’t be a factor this year but I’ve been long enough in the job to never completely rule out anything, especially at this time of year.”

Hensey reported corporate hospitality for Derby day has been sold out for a month while advance ticket sales are also up.

In a dates flip-flop from the usual, Sunday’s Group 1 feature at the Curragh will be the €190,000 Barclays Bank Pretty Polly Stakes, a possible option for Prix de l’Opera winner Nahrain, who disappointed in last week’s Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“She was disappointing . . . at Royal Ascot you need to be right at your best as it’s such an unforgiving place,” said trainer Roger Varian. “She’d done plenty of work on her fitness but she was a bit fresh early on . . . not bolting keen, but just keen enough that it took a toll on her effort later on in the race . . . Royal Ascot is so unforgiving that if there are any chinks in your armour you get found out. I hope her disappointing race is out of the way.”

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