|Wednesday, 6 June 2012
: Pat Jupp rounds up the Group 1 action from Epsom, where Camelot was the star of the show, and also takes a look back at the best of the action from Chantilly on Sunday.....
It's an elite group of horses who emerge from the Derby with an unbeaten record still intact and Camelot (130p) is just the third horse since the turn of the millennium to achieve that feat (Galileo and Motivator are the other two). Since he slammed his rivals in the RP Trophy last autumn the Derby has revolved around Camelot - a view significantly strengthened by his win in the 2000 Guineas - and in the smallest field since 1907, he justified odds-on favouritism in the anticipated style, pulling five lengths clear of the hitherto unbeaten Main Sequence (121).
For all that Camelot arrived as a classic winner, his Epsom win was a real breakthrough performance in ratings terms, running right up to the recent standard for a Derby winner in the manner of one capable of better yet, all of which is underpinned by an excellent timefigure of 128.
You have to go back to Snurge in 1990 for the last time a St Leger winner ran to 130, suggesting the Triple Crown will be easy pickings if connections opt to go down that route, but we'll learn more about Camelot's limits if he takes on his elders, a clash with Frankel at ten furlongs a mouthwatering prospect. Main Sequence posted an effort good enough to win five of the last six renewals of the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, a possible next target, acknowledging it would be a quick turnaround after a hard race, while Bonfire (120) seemed undone by a combination of the track and trip and is worth another chance.
The Oaks and Derby were chalk and cheese, the latter run at a sound gallop and a fair test, while the former was a messy affair, steadily run and featuring plenty of hard-luck stories. Was (114) clung on by a neck from Shirocco Star (114) after getting the run of the race, but returned the lowest winning figure since Casual Look back in 2003, and others further back arguably emerge with more credit, notably The Fugue, who finished third but did enough to retain her pre-race rating of 117p. She was badly chopped off and shuffled back after half a mile but finished best of all, something backed up by the sectionals (read Simon Rowlands blog for more in-depth analysis HERE and will hold a favourite's chance if re-opposing in the Irish Oaks.
Maybe (116) and Coquet (111p) are the other pair who were most disadvantaged by the run of things. Maybe was patiently ridden, presumably with a view to preserving stamina, a tactic that backfired given how things panned out, but this still represents a step back towards her 2-y-o form. Coquet finished sixth but would have surely at least made the frame granted a clear passage and the Irish Oaks should give a clearer reflection of just how much she has progressed from Goodwood.
Last year St Nicholas Abbey (131) didn't look entirely at home at Epsom and only collared Midday close home, but things were far smoother this time around and he showed high-class form for the first time when making it back-to-back wins in the Coronation Cup, beating the admirable Red Cadeaux (123) by four and a half lengths. Admittedly St Nicholas Abbey will face tougher opposition if taking in either the Prince of Wales's Stakes or the Eclipse next, but this did confirm his position amongst the elite.
Over in France the Prix du Jockey Club was a very rough race and rather unsatisfactory as a result, and though he finished only eighth, Imperial Monarch (119p) has been rated as the best horse in the race after a strong late surge caught the eye. He'll be at least as effective at a mile and a half as well. The race went to outsider Saonois (118) but he did enjoy a clearer passage than most and, in short, this isn't a race from which to draw firm conclusions, only four and a half lengths separating the winner and French Fifteen (122) back in tenth.
British raiders had a good time of it in the supporting races, with Aiken (119p) taking the Grand Prix de Chantilly and Laugh Out Loud (114) the Prix de Sandringham.
John Gosden's Aiken made it six wins on the spin by three quarters of a length from Maxios (118), who is half-brother to Arc hero Bago and is now starting to deliver on the promise he showed as a juvenile, while Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden (124) was back in third. Aiken has a bit to find with the likes of Nathaniel if aimed at the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, but is two from two over that course and distance. Laugh Out Loud's York form looks strong (the runner-up Electrelane won the German 1000 Guineas on her next start), and the Mick Channon-trained filly took another step forward when making all by two lengths from Mashoora.
Moonlight Cloud (126) is also worth a mention as she gave weight all round and a beating to her fourteen rivals in the Group 3 Prix du Palais-Royal, setting herself up nicely for a crack at Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, though that will prove a stiff task if the Aussie superstar comes here at the top of her game.
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