O'Brien hoping to put spring in Camelot step for Royal Ascot
Aidan O'Brien's three intended runners in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas are all double-figure odds to secure him a landmark seventh triumph in the season's opening Classic, but the horse that delivered him his latest victory in the Newmarket Group One will be a different proposition at the Curragh two days later.
Camelot's racing future hung in the balance when he had to undergo surgery after suffering a bout of colic following his autumn Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe flop, but last year's triple Classic hero has pleased his Ballydoyle handler since returning to training.
O'Brien has outlined an early schedule for the four-year-old over 10 furlongs, starting in Monday's Group Three Mooresbridge Stakes, before taking in the Tattersalls Gold Cup en route to Royal Ascot's Prince Of Wales's Stakes.
It is an ambitious agenda for Camelot, as he switches back from a mile-and-a-half for a first time since swooping late to take the 2,000 Guineas 12 months ago. Still, chances are that he will go off at prohibitively short odds in his initial two Curragh assignments, so he might yet travel to Ascot in June with a real spring in his step.
Apart from Camelot's Arc no-show, his only other defeat came when he was foiled at odds-on by Godolphin's Encke in his Triple Crown bid at Doncaster, a shock result that must now be viewed through the prism of the 25/1 winner's disgraced trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni being found guilty of "systematic misuse" of anabolic steroids.
Jim Bolger's injury-plagued 2011 Dewhurst hero Parish Hall is also among the eight Mooresbridge entries. On its first start since that Group One coup last month, Parish Hall ran out a determined winner at headquarters, where the ground is currently given as yielding to soft on the round course and soft on the straight course.
Eddie Lynam's Viztoria, a classy juvenile last year, could make her reappearance in Monday's other Group Three, the Athasi Stakes, or the Listed Tetrach Stakes.
O'Brien, meanwhile, has confirmed that he plans to rely on Mars, George Vancouver and Cristoforo Colombo in Saturday's Qipco-sponsored Classic (Joseph O'Brien on Cristoforo Colombo, Seamie Heffernan on Mars, Colm O'Donoghue on George Vancover). Bolger's Dawn Approach shades favouritism at 11/8, but a win for any of Rosegreen team would see O'Brien join John Scott as the most successful trainer in the race's 204-year history.
Lines Of Battle will tackle the Kentucky Derby later in the day. Successful in the UAE Derby on March 30, the colt will be ridden by Ryan Moore, as O'Brien tries for his debut win in a US Triple Crown heat in the 'Run for the Roses.'
Dermot Weld, still the only European trainer to achieve such a feat, courtesy of Go And Go's famous 1990 Belmont Stakes rout under Mick Kinane, will have one runner at most in Sunday's 1,000 Guineas, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned October Leopardstown winner Rasmeyaa. Big Break is to wait for the Irish or French edition. Joseph O'Brien is on the supplemented Moth with Ryan Moore on Snow Queen.