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A short story for Camelot

THE mighty Camelot looks set to start as the shortest price favourite in the prestigious history of the Irish Derby.

After sauntering to victory in the English 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby, the champion three-year-old elect is currently trading at odds of 1-4 and they are expected to fall even further.

Camelot will attempt to follow in the hoofprints of his erstwhile stablemates High Chaparral and Galileo, both victorious at Epsom before the Curragh.

Since then, only one English Derby winner has attempted the double: North Light, second in 2004.

Such is Camelot's dominance that, for only the third time in 56 years, there will be no overseas challengers in the Curragh showpiece.

Leon Blanche of Boylesports is looking forward to the main Irish classic but admits that Camelot's short odds will deter punters from investing in the race and will leave the bookies satchels short.

"Turnover will certainly be down with such a short-price favourite, but it's still the Irish Derby and one of the highlights of the year and people will want to have a bet," he said.

"I expect there to be plenty of interest in the each-way market and once the final declarations are revealed we'll have a 'betting without' market. It's still a race to savour and we have a fantastic horse in Camelot.

"He's the best three-year-old around and it's great for Irish racing."

Of the 10 horses confirmed yesterday to take on Camelot, one horse who will certainly do just that is Jim Bolger's Derrinstown Derby Trial winner Light Heavy, who has been targeted for the race for some time.

"I've been happy with light heavy since the Derrinstown and this has been the plan since," Bolger said.

"I know Camelot is there, but we're going to run and he seems in good form."

John Oxx's Born To Sea, a half-brother to the all-conquering Sea The Stars, will be looking for a quick turnaround after his fourth place finish in last week's St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.


The colt was hot in the betting market and stayed on strongly at the finish, suggesting he might relish the step up in trip to 12 furlongs.

Akeed Mofeed, not seen since finishing second in the Beresford Stakes, and Chester Vase third Call To Battle are his other two.

Dermot Weld's progressive and lightly raced Speaking Of Which completes an all-Irish field.

Aidan O'Brien's strong contingent, headed by Camelot, is completed by Learn, Astrology, Daddy Long Legs, Father Of Science and Imperial Monarch.

Meanwhile, Curragh general manager Paul Hensey is wary of potential rain on Thursday, even if the forecast in Kildare is largely favourable.

"We had a nice, dry day yesterday and again today, and I walked the course this morning and was pleasantly surprised how well the track has taken all the rain we've had recently," he said. "It's yielding to soft at the moment, but I'd expect it to have dried to yielding by the end of the day.

"We'll be watching the forecast closely for the end of the week. We might have light showers on Wednesday but the key day is Thursday, when there is a band of rain moving across and we'll have to see if we get it.

"The rest of the forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday then looks good."

The Derby is being held in the evening for the first time, with the big race itself due off at 7.40pm.