Camelot makes winning return

Aidan O’Brien’s ‘delighted’ after colt leads them home at the Curragh

Joseph O’Brien on Camelot pulls away from Seamie Heffernan on Triumphant to win The High Chaparral European Breeders Fund Mooresbridge Stake at the Curragh. Photograph: Inpho

Multiple Classic winner Camelot made a winning return to action in the High Chaparral European Breeders Fund Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt won the 2000 Guineas and both the English and Irish Derbies during a spectacular first half of his three-year-old campaign, but was narrowly denied Triple Crown glory in the St Leger at Doncaster.

He disappointed on his final start of the year in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and was subsequently found to be suffering from colic, but was still the red-hot 1-3 favourite to take this Group Three prize on his four-year-old debut.

The presence of the Jim Bolger-trained Parish Hall, a horse good enough to win the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket as a juvenile, added spice to the contest as he appeared to retain plenty of ability when winning on his return from a long lay-off in the Alleged Stakes.


Camelot was settled last of the five runners in the early stages, with his stable companion Triumphant adopting a pacesetting role as anticipated. Joseph O’Brien eased the market leader closer once straightened up for home and it was clear he was travelling far easier than his opponents. O’Brien junior had to shake up his mount, but did not resort to his whip, and Camelot quickened smartly to run to the lead.

Triumphant kept going to finish second, with Parish Hall slightly disappointing in third.

“We’re delighted. He had massive colic surgery over the winter and it was his first time back so you’re never sure,” the winning trainer told At The Races. “It was major open surgery, and after the surgery is a massive time. He went to Coolmore and was not with us for months. I was surprised at the shape he was in when he came back - that surgery is massive and we are lucky to have him.”

"He has the speed and the ability and Joseph said he'll improve a lot fitness wise and felt he was 70 per cent fit today. The Tattersalls Gold Cup is the plan, you'd imagine there's plenty of improvement. The plan was always to come here, the Tattersalls and the Prince Of Wales's at Royal Ascot but we'll take it one race at a time."

Camelot's victory was the second leg of a double for the Ballydoyle team after 2-9 shot Michaelmas justified odds-on favouritism with a workmanlike victory in the Alfred Nobel European Breeders Fund Race.

O’Brien senior said: “He did it nicely. He was still green in front. There is a winner’s race in Naas (May 15th) he might go for. He was lazy and idling away and that’s why he let him gallop along.”

Eddie Lynam can rightly dream of Classic glory with Viztoria after she made a winning return in the Group Three Canford Cliffs European Breeders Fund Athasi Stakes. A winner of her first two starts as a juvenile and second in a Group Three in France, the even-money favourite saw out the seven furlongs well under Johnny Murtagh to win decisively by a length from Bunairgead.

“We had three questions we needed answering coming here today — one was has she trained on, and she has,” Lynam said. “Two was would she get seven furlongs, and she did, and three was is she worth taking a chance with in the Guineas and she is. Johnny was happy and the trainer is not unhappy.

“We can dream for another 20 days.”

Paul Deegan's 11-2 chance Sruthan could be Royal Ascot-bound after making it two wins from as many starts with a stylish performance in the Power EBF Tetrarch Stakes.

Deegan said: "That was good, he was impressive. Chris said the other horses were getting in his way three furlongs out. I don't know where he will go next but we always thought a bit of him and aiming high I think he could be a Jersey Stakes horse. He will stay a mile as well."

Willie McCreery's (16-1) Valbucca won on her first start of the campaign with a determined effort in the Club Bar Bistro At Keadeen Hotel Handicap.

McCreery said: “I thought the ground might be a bit dead for her but she is an honest filly. She will go for a fillies’ handicap next at Navan on May 19th.”

Pat Shanahan's Scotland Forever (9-1) claimed a thrilling G.Duffy & Sons Citroen Maiden by a nose from Wexford Opera, while the Newbridge Credit Union Handicap went to 10-1 shot Slipper Orchid.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column