/ Racing

Camelot bids to restore lofty reputation in Prince Of Wales's Stakes

Updated: Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 13:21 | Comments

Camelot, seen, here finishing second to Al Kazeem, was the best of a dreadful crop of three-year-old colts in 2012
Camelot, seen, here finishing second to Al Kazeem, was the best of a dreadful crop of three-year-old colts in 2012

Jockey Joseph O'Brien is confident Camelot can silence the doubters and return to his best in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot today.

The Montjeu colt was hailed a potential superstar after he followed up an unbeaten juvenile campaign with victories in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, Investec Derby at Epsom and the Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Connections soon confirmed Camelot would try to become the first Triple Crown hero since the legendary Nijinsky in 1970 by running in the St Leger at Doncaster, but his dreams were shattered as he suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Encke.

His huge reputation took another significant blow as he finished down the field in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and although he suffered a life-threatening bout of colic not long afterwards, trainer Aidan O'Brien confirmed the apple of his eye would return for a four-year-old campaign.

He made a winning, if unspectacular, return to action in the Mooresbridge Stakes, but then suffered defeat at the hands of Al Kazeem in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

The two renew their rivalry in Wednesday's 10-furlong feature and O'Brien junior is looking forward to the challenge .

"We've done one or two things a bit differently at home with him since (the Curragh) and we're hoping he can improve," said Ireland's champion jockey.

"After what happened last year (colic), sometimes the first time they have a proper race again it can come as a bit of a shock.

"He seems in good form at home, we're happy with him and we're hoping he's going to run a big race."

Aidan O'Brien is pleased Al Kazeem is in the field on Wednesday, to give him a chance to gauge how Camelot is progressing.

"We've been looking forward to him and this will be his big test (in) high-summer," the Ballydoyle handler told At The Races.

"We've been very happy with him since the Curragh. Ascot was the main target for the first half of the year and we were taking him along gently.

"He had the setback in the winter and everything was slowly building up to Ascot.

"You'd be happy Al Kazeem is running again, as we can gauge Camelot then and see if he is making the progression we hope he is going to make.

"I think it's good for the race, it will be good competition and we look forward to the race."

While the O'Brien camp are expecting Camelot to be a different horse to the one that turned up at the Curragh last month, Charlton sees no reason why Al Kazeem cannot also progress.

Charlton said: "I think and hope he has come on again since his last run. I think he's fitter, he looks well, he's eating well and is in a good place mentally.

"It's a better race than what he ran in last time. At the Curragh we had one horse to beat, this time we've got eight horses to beat.

"Camelot is there, I'd respect The Fugue and one or two others - it's a Group One race.

"I don't think we have any excuses before the race. It might be different afterwards! We'll see."

The man in the saddle aboard Al Kazeem is James Doyle and he too is up for the challenge.

The jockey said: "He won very nicely in Ireland and surprised a lot of people by showing exactly how good he was.

"The race has fallen apart a bit with Snow Fairy and Farhh now not running, but it still leaves some decent horses in the line-up.

"Camelot is there and the vibes from the O'Brien camp are that he's going to be in better nick going to Ascot, so that will be interesting to see.

"The Fugue has got some decent form in the book and it's going to be a tough race, but it's one I'm really looking forward to.

"We go with a favourite's chance, but it is Ascot after all and you can never be too confident. Hopefully we will run into a place at least.

"He's always been pretty good, but he's improved massively.

"He's a superstar to ride. He makes my job a lot easier."

John Gosden's talented mare The Fugue also brings Group One-winning form to the table, having landed the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last summer.

However, she is making her first appearance since finishing a luckless third in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders' Cup in November and Simon Marsh, racing manager for the Lloyd-Webbers, acknowledges she faces a tough task on her return.

Marsh said: "The weather was against her earlier in the year and it just took time for her to come to herself, but she's ready now and we have to start somewhere.

"I think this is the perfect trip for her and I would imagine the ground will be on the fast side of good, which should be perfect.

"John wouldn't be running her if he didn't think she was straight, but it is a tough ask running against the colts on her first start of the season.

"She has run well fresh in her two previous seasons, so we'll see what happens."

Adding Gallic flair to the race is the Jonathan Pease-trained French raider Maxios, a narrow winner of the Group One Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp last month.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners the Niarchos Family, said: "He has travelled well and is going into the race in very good form.

"This is the natural next step for him after winning the Prix d'Ispahan and he has good form lines with horses like Planteur. We'll know much more about him tomorrow afternoon.

"I think 10 furlongs is the right distance for him at this stage and I think the track should be fine for him.

"We wouldn't want the ground too firm, but there are some showers forecast and I don't think the ground is going to be an issue.

"It's a proper Group One race, which is what Royal Ascot is all about."

Adding further depth to what promises to be an exciting contest are Ed Dunlop's globetrotting star Red Cadeaux, Godolphin's Saint Baudolino and William Haggas-trained improver Mukhadram.

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