Monday 19 February 2018

Camelot options left open

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Camelot's appearance in the latest list of entries for the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes keeps alive the possibility of his tackling the €750,000 Leopardstown showpiece, but a Triple Crown bid a week later remains his most likely target.

Aidan O'Brien's triple Classic winner was one of a crack squad of 12 that the Ballydoyle maestro left in the September 8 Group One at the second entry stage, with Saturday's King George third St Nicholas Abbey, the same day's Grand Prix de Paris scorer Imperial Monarch, the 2011 Irish Derby hero Treasure Beach and last month's Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Power also among the entrants.

However, Camelot also now heads an 11-strong Ballydoyle entry for the Doncaster St Leger and is expected to lead O'Brien's attempt to become the first trainer to complete a grand slam of all five English Classics.

The unbeaten Epsom Derby winner is a best-priced 1/2 to emulate Vincent O'Brien's 1970 Triple Crown legend Nijinsky by bookending a clean sweep that he initiated at Newmarket on May 5, while Imperial Monarch is also among the stable's other 10 entries.

As has often been the case this term, John Gosden, O'Brien's main rival for the British trainers' title, is poised to supply some of the most potent opposition in both races. The Newmarket wizard has raised the possibility of an intriguing clash of the sexes by engaging Irish Oaks heroine Great Heavens in the St Leger, while the filly's full-brother Nathaniel, just denied a famous King George double at Ascot last Saturday, has been added to the mile-and-a-quarter Leopardstown highlight at a cost of €20,000.

Should Nathaniel turn up -- and Gosden has suggested that it might be his best option -- he could play a large part in helping the Champion Stakes recapture some of the gloss that it has lost in recent times.

In a high-class 33-strong entry, last year's runner-up Snow Fairy, English Champion Stakes winner Cirrus Des Aigles, Godolphin's Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso and Henry Cecil's evergreen Twice Over, third in 2010, are among nine exciting international contenders.

John Oxx's Born To Sea and Jim Bolger's Light Heavy, second and third to Camelot in the Irish Derby, are other potential starters, with Light Heavy likewise joined by Oxx's Hartani and Call To Battle among the 36 St Leger entries.

Yesterday also saw the entries unveiled for day one of the Galway Festival. Fosters Cross and Cry For The Moon, first and second in the €70,000 Qualified Riders' Handicap last year, are poised to re-oppose in the two-mile feature next Monday evening.

Unusually, though maybe not surprisingly given that the ground at Ballybrit was yesterday changed to heavy, soft to heavy in places after 16mm of rain on Tuesday, there isn't a single British-trained entry on the opening salvo.

Meanwhile, Tyrone-based Andy Oliver has suggested that Sendmylovetorose, successful in the Cherry Hinton at Newmarket two weeks ago, could step up to Group One company next, with the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 29 now on the agenda. Oliver may first opt to supplement the unbeaten filly for the Moyglare Stakes at the Curragh on September 9.

Irish Independent

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