Racing: Camelot on brink of immortality after Derby win

Camelot, centre, ridden by Joseph O'Brien wins Epsom Derby during Derby Day. Photo / AP
Camelot, centre, ridden by Joseph O'Brien wins Epsom Derby during Derby Day. Photo / AP

Camelot added his name to the Derby roll of honour yesterday as Aidan O'Brien's red hot favourite seduced a crowd of 130,000 at Epsom, including Queen Elizabeth on her Diamond Jubilee weekend.

Camelot never looked in danger of being a victim of the curse that had befallen three of the past four odds-on favourites in the Derby.

O'Brien's lanky, baby-faced son Joseph, riding with a poise and calm belying his 19 years, steered the 8-13 shot to a five-length success over Main Sequence, 9-1.

O'Brien's Astrology, who led the field round Tattenham Corner and into the famous straight, took third, a short head back.

The result produced a historic first father-and-son success in the blue riband race.

Co-owner Derrick Smith told the BBC: "This is the one everyone wants in racing - to win the English Derby is a dream come true.

"What a ride from Joseph, what a horse."

After expensive defeats for Entrepreneur, Tenby and El Gran Senor - the last odds-on shot to prevail was the mighty Shergar, at 10-11, in 1981 - Camelot stuck to his script perfectly.

With this success coming on top of his 2000 Guineas triumph, the way is now clear for Camelot to try to emulate Nijinsky's 1970 feat of landing the Triple Crown, September's St Leger now standing between him and turf immortality.

Such was Camelot's reputation, built on substance rather than the myth of the castle after which he was named, that only eight rivals took up the gauntlet for the smallest Derby field in 105 years.

With Astrology setting the early pace, O'Brien jnr had Camelot towards the rear coming down the hill into Tattenham Corner, before making his move in the straight to mow down the leaders and win stylishly.

The winning jockey reported: "He didn't come down the hill, he didn't handle the track, but he's a very special horse."

For O'Brien the trainer Camelot's victory provided him with a third Derby after Galileo in 2001 and High Chaparral in 2002, and ended a run of 39 runners since who failed to hit the Epsom bullseye.

After saddling Was to win Saturday's Oaks it also maintained his stranglehold on the four English classics run this season, with only the one-and-three-quarter-mile St Leger to come.

One British bookmaker goes as short as 1-3 about the master Irish trainer annexing all five with Camelot in the St Leger.

- AFP

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