Camelot wins Irish Derby at Curragh

Odds-on favourite Camelot won the Irish Derby on Saturday to hand trainer Aidan O'Brien his seventh successive victory, and 10th overall, in the Classic.

The 1-5 favourite was always cantering under the trainer's son Joseph, but when he was let down over a furlong out he jinked left and Johnny Murtagh attacked aboard Born to Sea, the eventual runner-up.

For a stride or two he looked a genuine threat but Camelot soon had his measure and went on to win with authority in heavy conditions.

"We really felt it wasn't the right thing (to run on this ground) but he's a great horse," said trainer O'Brien.

"He's a real fast ground horse. We appreciate all the hard work everyone's put in, the sponsors, The Curragh - I can't say how thrilled we are to be part of it. It doesn't get any better than this. These are days you can't dream of.

"I never would have believed it could ever happen. He's by far the best we've had - we've never had anything like this."

O'Brien jnr said: "He wasn't handling the ground at all. He has a big heart and tries very hard. He's got himself out of a hole because he hated that ground.

"I travelled very well, nice and relaxed, I never had a worry throughout the race, only he was hating the ground!

"I knew underneath me that he wasn't liking it and it's testament to the horse he is that he's won today.

"I think he's a very, very good horse. He showed today how big a heart he has, that he can pull himself through that ground and still win big races quite easy."

The absence of any headline contenders from Britain or France in the race, which featured just five runners, was testimony to the soaring reputation Camelot has attained in his short racing life.

Camelot became the 16th horse to complete the Epsom-Curragh Derby double, but the first since High Chaparral, also trained by O'Brien, in 2002.

While victory in Ireland's premier classic is a notable prize to add to his burgeoning cv a far more important date looms on the horizon for Camelot in the shape of the St Leger at Doncaster in September.

If Camelot succeeds in claiming the world's oldest classic run over one and three quarter miles he will become the first since Nijinsky - trained by O'Brien's namesake Vincent O'Brien - back in 1970 to lift the coveted Triple Crown of Guineas, Derby and St Leger.

"He had the speed to win the Guineas, the class to win the Derby and then he had to have class, courage and stamina to win today," O'Brien the trainer said.

"Obviously the lads will speak about the Triple Crown now, wouldn't it be something to dream about?"

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