Click above to watch Encke defeating Camelot in the St Leger Stakes (Gr1)
(Photo : Daily Mail - Footage : Shalakhani)
LADBROKES ST LEGER STAKES (Gr1)
Doncaster, Turf, 2937m
15 September 2012
History waited on him, but was ultimately disappointed as Camelot (GB) (Montjeu) failed in his Triple Crown bid in yesterday’s G1 Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes won by Godolphin’s outsider Encke (Kingmambo). Ballydoyle’s class act brought mass appeal to Doncaster’s Town Moor and the sell-out crowds left largely deflated, as Camelot tried in vain to reel in the 25-1 winner and Mickael Barzalona in the final yards.
With the defeat, Aidan O’Brien missed out on becoming the first trainer to win all five British Classics in the same season. The Irishman remained philosophical after the Wise Dan at Saratoga Adam Coglianese event. “He ran a great race, but just got beat,” O’Brien said. “It’s disappointing for everybody, but that’s racing. It wasn’t what we thought it was going to be - it was a steadily run race and he just stayed on rather than quickened.”
Encke arrived at Doncaster with one of the lowest profiles of all of Godolphin’s past St Leger heroes, having won a 10-furlong handicap by a half length at Sandown off an official handicap mark over 30 pounds below Camelot’s only three starts ago July 6. Beaten a nose by Frankel’s brother Noble Mission (GB) (Galileo) on his belated first pattern-race appearance in the G3 Gordon Stakes over 12 furlongs at Goodwood July 31, the bay was third behind Thought Worthy (Dynaformer) and Main Sequence (Aldebaran) in a renewal of the G2 Great Voltigeur that was effectively a meander-and- sprint affair.
Ranked here as the Gosden pacemaker, Dartford (Giant’s Causeway) failed to set the fast fractions expected, Encke appeared to be traveling as well as Camelot, who had steadily crept between rivals from rear inside the final three furlongs.
Whereas Joseph O’Brien took a moment to gather the favorite at the quarter pole, Barzalona seized the day and Camelot’s rider quickly went from ice-cool to panic as his mount failed to pick up instantly. Encke was in the clear by the time Camelot found top stride and the nine slaps with O’Brien’s whip were not enough to bring out the familiar pizzazz of the previously unbeaten colt.
“This horse would rank with the very best of our winners - it was a great effort,” Racing Manager Simon Crisford commented. “Mickael rode a beautiful race and when he kicked at the two pole, he put the race to bed.”
Winning trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni revealed afterwards that he had little faith in Encke’s Classic bid. “He ran a good race in the Voltigeur, but I thought that was him and he was no more than that,” he explained. “I thought he had no chance today and told Mickael to save him and try and be placed, but he’s tough and kept going. In fairness to Mickael, he has always liked him and told me he had the class.”
Crisford added, “We put a line through his run at York and Mahmood had been very happy with his work in the build-up to the Leger and Sheikh Mohammed gave the green light to run him. We weren’t sure about his stamina going into the race, but he’s quite stoutly bred, so we thought it wouldn’t be a problem. What we loved about that race was the turn of foot he showed, which stands him in good stead for next season and he will stay in training. I would imagine it’s very unlikely he’ll run in the Arc, but we will see what Sheikh Mohammed wants to do. I would imagine he will have a plan geared around next summer. This is one of the great races of the British calendar and we have been very lucky to win it six times. We went into the race thinking we probably wouldn’t beat the favorite, but definitely fancying a piece of the pie and Mickael gelled really well with him today as we told him to keep an eye on the pacemaker and ride accordingly.”
Camelot’s trainer Aidan O’Brien was dealing with the fall-out of the shock, which brought to an end the dream of the Triple Crown John Magnier had described as a “no-brainer” to chase minutes before the race. “I thought the pace was going to be strong and I should have run a pacemaker or two,” O’Brien explained. “He was where I would have wanted him to be and he had to relax him going this distance, but he just tanked a bit early and had to take his time down the straight. He didn’t quicken like he did in the Guineas and Derby, but that was liable to happen as he was going a bit further than his distance.” As for what is next for Camelot, O’Brien added, “The thing that was going on in my head was that, if he was staying in training next year, he wouldn’t run any more this season, but the lads will make that decision.”