Camelot faces his day of reckoning at Epsom

11:31 02 June 2012

Camelot ridden by jockey Joseph O

Camelot ridden by jockey Joseph O'Brien wins the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes during the QIPCO 2000 Guineas Day at Newmarket Racecourse, Newmarket.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

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Odds on favourite Camelot faces his day of reckoning in the Investec Derby on Saturday as he bids to realise his lofty reputation in the world’s greatest horse race.

The Aidan O’Brien trained colt has long been touted as a potential Derby winner. The son of the ill-fated Montjeu, Camelot is unbeaten in three starts that includes victories in the Racing Post Trophy and QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

The ease of the triumphs has propelled him to the head of the betting that his principal owner Derrick Smith believes is justified.

“Everything we have seen and everything we believe suggests that he should win,” Smith said to London24 at Epsom on Friday, soon after the same connections landed the Investec Oaks with 20-1 shot Was, who provided jockey Seamie Heffernan win his first win in a British Classic.

“I have had four rides in the Oaks but this is my first win,” Heffernan said. “All of Aidan’s (five runners in the Oaks today) were good fillies, but I suppose Was was the least exposed. I was happy that she would run a good race.”

Was’s victory was O’Brien’s third success in Classic races in the UK this season, following on from his victories in the 2000 Guineas with Camelot and Homecoming Queen in the 1000 Guineas.

And the Ballydoyle handler has a great chance of continuing his unbeaten run as he saddles two of the top three in the betting for the Investec Derby, the fourth Classic of the season.

“Camelot has been going gently and everything is well so far. I am happy with him,” said O’Brien who also has 8-1 chance Astrology entered in the Derby that this year has attracted the smallest field since 1907 with nine runners.

“Camelot has always been a very special horse here, from day one. He was a very short-priced favourite when he went for his maiden and then I was very happy with him in the Racing Post Trophy. His first big test was the Guineas.

“He is one of those very special horses. He is very relaxed, very straightforward and very calm but has a lot of nervous energy.

“We are under no illusions with the Derby. We had two very special horses in (Derby winners) High Chaparral and Galileo and have not won it since. The race is a very difficult test of a horse. There cannot be any chink in their armour and everything has to go right on the day. We are delighted to get there with horses with chances.”

Meanwhile Andrew Balding, trainer of Derby second favourite Bonfire, advertised the well-being of his team when he landed a double at Epsom on Friday with Side Glance and Highland Knight.

“I thought he was given a fantastic ride,” Balding said after Highland Knight completed the double when prevailing by a neck in the Class 2 Investec Mile Handicap under David Probert. “It’s not easy to make the running anywhere, especially in a 17-runner handicap and David has done a super job.”

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