Joseph O'Brien displays guile and style in riding Camelot to victory in the 2000 Guineas, and African Story will be stepping up in class at Hong Kong.
Unbelievable run in the 2000 Guineas for Camelot
NEWMARKET, ENGLAND // Camelot galloped into the picture for the English Derby with a thrilling victory in the English 2000 Guineas on Saturday.
In total contrast to Frankel's front-running display last year, Joseph O'Brien anchored his mount in the rear of the 18-runner field and delivered a run timed to perfection to deny French Fifteen, owned by Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa, by a neck.
Hermival, also owned by the Qatari Sheikh, was third.
It was an extraordinary ride for a jockey aged just 18 on his first ride in a Classic, but he is a rare talent, and with four Group 1 successes last season to his name he took his participation in the 204th running of the race in his stride.
"I was very happy throughout the race. Camelot was nice and relaxed and I always felt like I was getting there," said O'Brien, who had his first ride at the age of 16.
"He might have got a bit tired in the last 100 yards but it was his first run of the season and he can come on for it."
For the jockey's father, Aidan, the trainer, it was a day to remember as it was also the sixth victory in the race for the Irish handler, who first won the mile contest in 1998 with King Of Kings
"It's one of those unbelievable days," he said. "We walked the course before and it was plenty soft for him. I was worried about Joseph riding a horse for such pace in that kind of ground.
"He said he would be closer to last than closer to first at halfway - I am glad I bit my tongue!"
Camelot is now likely to head for the Derby at Epsom, which is run on June 2.
Frankel was also at Newmarket put his injury worries behind him with a racecourse gallop along the Rowley Mile.
The world's highest-rated thoroughbred made a pleasing return to the public eye working with stablemates Bullet Train, his regular work partner, and Jet Away.
Frankel suffered a leg injury on April 11on the gallops at Newmarket which threatened his career but a week afterwards was passed fit following a scan.
Partnered by the jockey Tom Queally, Frankel was anchored at the back of the trio while Shane Featherstonhaugh, Frankel's regular work rider, forced the pace on Jet Away.
Halfway through the seven-and-a-half furlong outing, Queally could not hold back his mount's natural exuberance and the pair cantered smoothly to the front to consign to history any rumours that his injury had put his career in jeopardy.
"He enjoyed that and was relaxed going down, which he wasn't last year," said Sir Henry Cecil, the colt's trainer, in reference to Frankel's victory 12 months ago in the 2000 Guineas.
"He has grown stronger since last year and is much more sensible."
Cecil confirmed that his unbeaten colt will definitely be trained with a view to running in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury Racecourse on May 19.
"He will have another two or three bits of work and so long as it is decent ground then he will run in the Lockinge.
"Touch wood he seems fine now after his setback, and it is not worrying me so much so it must be OK."
Elsewhere, Vita Nova, owned by Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa, won her seasonal bow at Goodwood on Saturday.
AFRICAN STORY TAKING A STEP UP IN CLASS AT HONG KONG
Godolphin hope that African Story can prove that his form on Dubai World Cup night merits the closest scrutiny on Sunday when the five year old contests the BMW Champions Mile at Sha Tin in Hong Kong.
African Story put the Godolphin Mile field to the sword in March with an easy four-length success at Meydan Racecourse over Mike de Kock's Viscount Nelson. Frankie Dettori was on board then.
He is replaced by Silvestre de Sousa as Dettori is required to ride Lyric Of Light in Sunday's English 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in front of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
"He was winning soft races in Dubai and he was decent against some better horses," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager said. "The Champions Mile looks far superior to anything than he would have encountered in Dubai."
African Story did his last piece of serious work in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Saeed bin Suroor, his trainer, was delighted with his preparation.
"He has looked in good order since then," bin Suroor said.
"He's drawn in stall 10, which should be fine as he has a good turn of foot and I hope he can take a good position early on in the race. There hasn't been much rain in Hong Kong and the ground is a little quicker than ideal for African Story, but showers are forecast and I hope there is some rain ahead of Sunday.
"We have had no problems with his preparation and he looks very well physically, happy and relaxed, which is always a good sign. He has improved with every start this year and I hope he can run another big race."
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