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The St.Leger 2012
Live on TV: Channel 4 3.40pm
Racing coverage on terrestrial television this Saturday comes from Chester and Doncaster. However, all eyes will be on Turf Moor, Doncaster, where Camelot attempts to become the first colt to win the Triple Crown – 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St. Leger – since Nijinsky in 1970.
While yet to prove that he is quite in the class of Frankel or Sea The Stars, European champion three-year-old in 2009, Camelot is unbeaten in five career starts, four of them at Group 1 level, and he looks a worthy favourite here. Indeed, at his current odds of 2/5 he looks destined to become the shortest-priced favourite for the final Classic since Reference Point, the last Epsom Derby winner to win the St. Leger, in 1987.
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Camelot seemingly acts on any ground and his style of racing suggests that the extra 2½ furlongs he has to cover on Town Moor should be well within his compass. Nevertheless, he has never raced beyond a mile and a half and has been off the course since winning the Irish Derby at the end of June. He may well win, but with most bookmakers offering 7/1 bar the favourite there’s each-way value to be found elsewhere.
Newmarket trainer John Gosden originally had five entries and, even in the absence of Irish Oaks winner Great Heavens and Bahrain Trophy winner Shantaram, still holds a fairly strong hand. It is safe to assume that Dartford, who is rated fully 50lbs inferior to Camelot and can be backed at odds of 250/1, has been entered as a pacemaker, but the other two Gosden-trained runners both appear to have some sort of chance.
Thought Worthy, available at 11/1 in places, but generally shorter, has fully 11 lengths to find with Camelot on Epsom Derby running. He did, however, reverse the form with the Derby runner-up, Main Sequence, in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes on his most recent start, so may be able to finish closer to Camelot this time. Of course, whether he has improved sufficiently to act beat Camelot is another question altogether. Thought Worthy appears to act on any ground, but his best form has been on good to firm.
John Gosden’s other entry, Michelangelo, hasn’t run since finishing third in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood at the end of July. On a line through the winner that day, Noble Mission, he is held by both Thought Worthy and Main Sequence and has been passed over by William Buick, who prefers Thought Worthy. Michelangelo looks the stable second string and, as such, his current odds of around 12/1 don’t appear overly generous.
Main Sequence was beaten just ¼ length by Thought Worthy in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, but has 5 lengths to find with Camelot on Epsom Derby running. His trainer, David Lanigan, has voiced his opinion that Main Sequence would have won at York with a stronger gallop. It’s interesting to note that he’s only ever won on good going on turf, so his chance may depend not only on the pace of the race, but also the prevailing conditions on Town Moor. In any case, it’s hard to envisage him beating Camelot and, despite support in the ante post market, he makes only limited appeal at around 8/1.
Camelot certainly appears to be the proverbial “good thing”, but anyone looking for an each-way alternative could do worse than to risk a small investment on the aptly-named Guarantee, trained by William Haggas. Guarantee takes a steep rise in class, but has won three of his four career starts and stayed on strongly when winning over 1 mile 6 furlongs at York last month. He apparently worked very well last week and, unlike most of the field, he is certain to get the trip. He looks a good bet for a place at the very least at his current odds of around 16/1.