Timeform's Joe Szekeres takes a look ahead to the Irish Derby, where all eyes will be on Camelot as he bids for his third classic of the season...
Camelot burst onto the scene last October with a runaway victory in the RP Trophy and the son of Montjeu hasn’t looked back since...
Camelot is the obvious starting point in Saturday's Group 1 and he is head and shoulders above his contemporaries in what could prove a high-quality renewal of the Irish Derby. Camelot burst onto the scene last October with a runaway victory in the RP Trophy and the son of Montjeu hasn't looked back since, taking both the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby in 2012. The manner of his Epsom success last time suggested Camelot is a real top-class performer with even further untapped potential, as he brushed aside the likes of Main Sequence and Astrology with relative ease. Camelot travelled through the race powerfully and found plenty for pressure, overhauling Astrology inside the closing stages and staying on all the way to the line. He could take this race in before a final assault on the British Triple Crown and it would be hugely surprising if he couldn't land the spoils on Saturday. Camelot probably won't need to run to anything like his best on Saturday, with this season's star three-year-old considered far superior to the majority of his Curragh rivals on the Timeform figures.
Aidan O'Brien has plenty of others to choose from in Saturday's race with Learn, Astrology, Daddy Long Legs, Father of Science and Imperial Monarch to choose from. Of the quintet, Astrology has the highest Timeform rating, having finished third behind Camelot in the Epsom Derby but the 121-rated performer still has plenty to find with his stablemate, and isn't certain to run after his below-par performance in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.
Imperial Monarch's defeat in the French Derby is a performance that can be forgiven given the way the race was run, and he could bounce back to prove a potential thorn in Camelot's side, the son of Galileo having looked progressive up until his Chantilly defeat. Prior to that effort, Imperial Monarch had won the Sandown Classic Trial, with Thought Worthy second and Rougemont back in third, form that looked fairly solid at the time. There is every chance that Imperial Monarch could regain the progressive thread on Saturday and he looks a more than capable second string should Camelot fail to fire.
Speaking of Which is the highest rated of those not trained by Aidan O'Brien after his runaway victory in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes last time, the Dermot Weld three-year-old having recorded a Timeform performance figure of 120 for his nine-length victory. The first-time blinkers and tongue strap seemed to work wonders for him on that occasion as he travelled powerfully throughout the contest before quickening clear of some useful rivals. Speaking of Which boasts plenty of speed in his pedigree but his style suggests the mile and a half trip should not pose a problem, for all he still has 10 lb to find with Camelot.
John Oxx and Jim Bolger are responsible for the remaining four runners with this year's field, which is set to be an all-Irish affair. Light Heavy is the sole representative from the Bolger yard, that one having won the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Derby Trial already this season. The 115-rated performer had Call To Battle two and a half lengths in behind when taking the first-named contest and it is difficult to envisage John Oxx's charge reversing that form come Saturday. Call to Battle has since finished third in the Chester Vase, finishing behind the likes of Mickdaam and Model Pupil and, based on those form lines, both Light Heavy and Call to Battle look unlikely winners, for all the former arguably possesses the slightly better chance of victory.
The two remaining John Oxx runners are Akeed Mofeed and Born to Sea, the pair looking to emulate Sinndar and Alamshar in taking this Group 1 prize for their esteemed handler. Born to Sea, in accordance with his immaculate pedigree, has been fairly highly tried since taking a listed contest on debut but he is yet to experience another victory, his best performance having come last time out when a staying-on fifth in the St James' Palace Stakes. Born to Sea is yet to race beyond the one mile distance but both his pedigree and style alike suggest that he should be capable of seeing out the extra trip. It is interesting that Oxx has decided to throw him into what could prove a very strong contest and he looks open to progression over the trip, despite having some 15 lb to find with Camelot.
Akeed Mofeed arguably has the greatest chance of the Oxx runners, if returning in one piece, having looked a smart prospect when taking a Leopardstown maiden last season before finishing second on heavy ground in the Beresford Stakes. The surface was possibly his undoing on that occasion but the way he stuck to his task was still admirable and he looked a horse to follow for the 2012 season. Akeed Mofeed hasn't been seen since which is, of course, a big worry but, if over the problems that have so far dogged his campaign, he could give the favourite most to think about.
Camelot looks to have this race won and the Aidan O'Brien superstar probably doesn't have to be at his best to land the victory. In a race where the others are playing for second place, Akeed Mofeed could be the one to take minor honours having shaped as if a potentially useful horse towards the tail end of last season.
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