Rain a pain to Camelot

DESPITE the fact that we are into May and over the next two days we will have the first two Classics of 2012, the weather continues to play havoc with plans for connections ahead of this year’s Newmarket Guineas meeting.

The fixture gets under way tomorrow with the colts lining up in the feature 2000 Guineas. However, even for long-time favourite Camelot, the soft ground is a major concern.

Camelot is a 6/4 shot in places but his rider Joseph O'Brien holds reservations about the two-time winner handling testing underfoot conditions.

“I have to have a question mark over the ground. He's a very good moving horse and won both starts last year on good ground,” said the |18-year-old.

Camelot is by Montjeu, who's offspring have been known to handle an ease in the ground. However, O'Brien is slightly concerned after the three-year-old won both his maiden at Leopardstown and the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on good ground last year.

“The ground at the weekend is an unknown, but we won't know until he goes and does it. He seems to have wintered well and we're looking forward to it,” continued O'Brien.

Camelot is joined by his stable companion Power for the 2000 Guineas tomorrow, and Power will be the mount of Ryan Moore, but having continually improved as a rider, O'Brien now appears to have first call on the Ballydoyle string.


O'Brien now goes in search of a first British Classic win, and added: “He's come to hand fairly quickly and he's ready for his first run of the year. He has a nice cruising speed and ticks the right boxes. I'd be hoping he'd run a nice race.”

Despite the ground, John Oxx is looking forward to running his major contender Born To Sea, a half-brother to 2009 race winner Sea The Stars.

Oxx would have preferred better ground for his colt as he steps up to a mile from six furlongs. However, he insisted Born To Sea will take his chance despite the fact the going is likely to be soft at Newmarket.

“We've only run him twice, but he hasn't been too inconvenienced by soft ground before,” Oxx said.

“I don't think ground is much of an issue.\[Daniel Webber\] I think he would prefer fast ground, but I wouldn't pull him out because it was soft. He still has to prove he stays a mile and I'm not sure he'd want a slog, but the ground as such, I don't think is a big worry.”

Born To Sea, Camelot and Power are the three Irish colts bidding to be the first Irish winner since the aforementioned Sea The Stars, but it has been a fortuitous hunting ground in recent years with Rock Of Gibraltar, Refuse To Bend, Footstepsinthesand, George Washington and Henrythenavigator also winning it in the last decade.

Jim Bolger, who was second to Henrythenavigator in the 2008 renewal with New Approach, will not be represented after he opted against declaring Parish Hall.

The Dewhurst winner was the most notable absentee from the final field of 18 for the Classic, but, with soft ground, Bolger will now look elsewhere.

Meanwhile, one of Ireland's leading 1000 Guineas hopefuls Lightening Pearl is likely to be in Newmarket before a decision is made.

Trainer Ger Lyons' first Group One winner has been targeted at the 1000 Guineas since winning the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket last September. However, the rain may scupper those plans.

“I'd imagine it will be Saturday before we make a decision on whether we run or not,” revealed Lyons.

“She won't run if the ground is any worse than good-to-soft as we don't want her to have a hard race on soft ground for her very first run of the year.”

Joseph O'Brien doesn't hold the same fears about race favourite Maybe.

He said: “She won on soft ground at Ascot and has won on all types of ground so I don't see the ground being a major issue for her.

“She was flawless last year – five out of five. She never looked like getting beaten in any of her races so hopefully she can run a nice race.”