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Sunday 17 December 2017

Where next for Camelot?

Mouth-watering options for O'Brien's stable star

THERE is no doubting that this could be a very special year for horseracing. Australian heroine Black Caviar has touched down in Newmarket in preparation for Royal Ascot, while the British powerhouse that is Frankel is wrapped up in every bit of Henry Cecil's finest cotton wool.

In what is a special year for the sport, it would be only rude if we didn't have a special horse of our own, considering we are world leaders at training, riding and breeding top-class racehorses. Cue Camelot.

Rarely do we get a season where horses from three different countries will create such a stir and between the three of them they have raced 35 times and won each and every one of them.

In fact, it would probably be wrong to pen this article and not mention the current American hotpot who tomorrow night will go for their version of the Triple Crown.

Admittedly, the US Triple Crown is attempted more often than the British one, but nevertheless if I'll Have Another can win tomorrow's Belmont Stakes after already claiming the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, he too will enter folklore on this special year.

While we know that the Belmont is his target tomorrow evening, and Black Caviar is going to scare them all away in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot as Frankel does the same in the Queen Anne Stakes, what we are as of yet unsure of is where Camelot will go next.

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby is probably favourite, but he has options and tonight we look at what they are.

St James's Palace Stakes

Run over a mile at Royal Ascot, this would be a surprise target for a horse who is being touted as having the 1m6f St Leger as his long-term target. A 2,000 Guineas winner, he will surely be able to put it up to the best of the three-year-olds over this distance, but has to fare as a long shot that he'll run here.

Chances of appearance - 1/5

Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

A race the trainer has won nine times, and hasn't lost in the last six, he could be a sure thing to make it 10 in total and seven in a row if Camelot lines up. Aidan O'Brien has suggested he won't decide any future plans, or at least make them public knowledge, for another week or so until he assesses the horse's wellbeing, but you'd have to imagine the Curragh highlight will fall into his schedule quite well.

Chances of appearance - 4/5

Coral Eclipse

If O'Brien decides to sidestep the Curragh well then a drop back in trip to 1m2f enters the equation and a meeting against older rivals in the Coral Eclipse.

Regardless of what way Camelot dominates this season's three-year-olds, he will really only be judged on whether or not he can maintain an impressive unbeaten record when stepping up to take on his more experienced and battle-hardened opponents.

In saying that, Sandown's best chance of attracting Camelot to this, is probably if the Curragh turns into a bog, which has been known to happen on Derby Day there.

Chances of appearance - 2/5

King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes

Staying at 1m4f is also an option for Camelot in the King George Stakes at the end of July where he could meet Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase winner Dunaden in a potentially mouth-watering tussle.

Ballydolye have other prime candidates to ensure life is made hard for Dunaden, but there is no doubting Camelot would be as interesting as any. You must wonder though, if this tough 1m4f test would come into the equation when the Juddmonte and St Leger aren't so far away.

Chance of appearance - 2/5

Quipco Sussex Stakes

Although holding an entry for this, surely the chances of Camelot taking on older horses over a mile by August are very slim. Amazed if this was part of his route.

Chances of appearance - 1/5

Juddmonte International Stakes

Due to take place in August, this is also the race where it is expected Frankel will step up in trip. The chances are that if Camelot is to run here it would mean a drop back in distance for him, but what a race to savour it would be, and undoubtedly it would define the champion racehorse of Europe for this season.

While connections of Frankel are openly keen to step up in trip this season, connections of Camelot may not be as loud about dropping their star back in trip, with the St Leger probably just the more favoured option for now. Camelot v Frankel here though would be standing room only.

Chance of appearance - 3/5

Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes

It looks to be widely accepted that if Camelot does run in this months Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby it would be his last race on Irish soil and his entry in Leopardstown's Champion Stakes looks solely precautionary.

Chance of appearance 1/5

Ladbrokes St Leger

God himself probably doesn't even know when we'll find out if Camelot is going to take on the Triple Crown and head for Doncaster, but there is no doubting that the comments emerging from key figures in both Coolmore and Ballydoyle after he won the Derby, suggested that the Triple Crown is something they'd like to say they have achieved.

The St Leger at Doncaster is rarely a vintage Classic and to win this Camelot wouldn't even have to be fully wound up, despite what connections may tell you. History appears to be waiting.

Chances of appearance - 4/5

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

Only three weeks separate the St Leger and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and if it is even under consideration to run Camelot in both, there is no way we'll find out about it until much closer to the time.

Again, judging by the quality of most St Legers, nothing should stop Camelot from running in both, and there would be a sneaky suspicion that he could be in for a busy time of things in the autumn. Would be a shame if Camelot wasn't here.

Chances of appearance - 4/5

Breeders' Cup

Depending on what way Camelot's season unfolds, he may well head stateside, and although O'Brien hasn't been flooded with success over on that side of the world, he could be taking a superstar this year, although who knows where he'd end up if going there.

Chances of appearance - 2/5

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