Superstar Camelot (3c Montjeu-Tarfah, by Kingmambo) battled through the testing ground at the Curragh on Saturday night to win the G1 Irish Derby, prompting trainer Aidan O’Brien to admit he’d never had a comparable horse.
The brilliant son of Montjeu, who landed the G1 2,000 Guineas on his seasonal debut, has now won all of his five starts and headed to the Curragh after a five-length victory in the G1 Derby at Epsom.
After his defeat of Born To Sea at the Curragh, connections suggested that a bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970 could now be on the cards.
“He’s a great horse,” O’Brien told www.irishracing.com “We’ve never had one like him and wouldn’t it be something to dream about now to go for the Triple Crown but the lads will have to talk about that. He’s had different tests so far and he’s passed them all.
“We were very worried about the ground. We thought soft ground would be a big problem as he’s a good-moving horse. All credit to Mr Magnier, Mr Tabor and Mr Smith. They let it happen, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do it.
“I didn’t think it was possible with a horse of his class. At home he wouldn’t walk on that sort of ground. After the Guineas we knew he had speed and after the Derby we knew he had class. Here though he had to show courage on top of that.
“We have a statue of Nijinsky looking at us as we go in and out of the yard every day. It’s always been a dream to have another horse up there on the other side.
“The plan was always to have a break after today with an autumn campaign in mind. We can all have happy dreams tonight. It was a massive test today and I can’t say how pleased and relieved I am.”
Jockey Joseph O’Brien added: “He’s a very, very good horse because he hated the ground. He’s got a big heart and he tried very hard. He got himself out of a hole because he was hating the ground.
“He travelled well and he was nice and relaxed. It’s testament to the horse that he is, to win there, and he showed how big a heart he has – he hated the ground – and still he’s gone and won a big race quite easy.
I was worried turning-in, it’s testing, sticky ground, they are not getting through it – it’s the opposite of what he likes. The wheels were spinning in that ground and he would have won considerably easier if the ground was much nicer.”
Part-owner John Magnier said: “That’s a relief as the ground was a big issue and we just about got away with it. As regards the Triple Crown I’ll have to talk to Michael (Tabor) and Derrick (Smith). They’re older than me – they’ll want to go for it!
“The sponsors have committed here for three years and that was weighing heavy on our minds. Also the effort put in by the Curragh committee had to be considered. It would have been like a tail wagging a dog if we hadn’t run. The gallops have been flooded and he hasn’t even been on grass since Epsom.”