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Camelot's foes hope to thwart history in St Leger

A maximum of 10 opponents could try to end Camelot's quest for the English Triple Crown in Saturday's Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster, the world's oldest classic.

Two of them, however, are his stablemates from the Ballydoyle yard. Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris hero Imperial Monarch could be likelier for Sunday's Group 2 Prix Niel at Longchamp. Chamonix just ran Monday, when he romped in the Oyster Stakes at Galway, and would be wheeling back quickly.

Two others seek to avenge their defeat by Camelot in the Group 1 Epsom Derby on June 2 -- runner-up Main Sequence and fourth-placer Thought Worthy. Both are exiting the Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York, where Thought Worthy controlled the modest pace and held on from the rallying Main Sequence.

Thought Worthy (far left) and Thomas Chippendale (far right) renew rivalry (Frank Sorge/Horsephotos.com)
Thought Worthy is trained by John Gosden, a four-time winner of the St Leger, including the past two runnings.

"He's been fine since York where he showed he's a very game horse," the trainer said. "He's from a family of tough staying horses."

Gosden pointed to the colt's marked similarities with full brother Lucarno, winner of the 2007 St Leger.

"Thought Worthy's brother Lucarno was also fourth in the Derby and won the Great Voltigeur. Lucarno then won the St Leger and I hope Thought Worthy can do the same.

"We are taking on a very fine horse in Camelot and naturally all the focus has been on him and the Triple Crown. But it takes other horses to make a race and Thought Worthy will stay the trip. Whether he can stay it fast enough is the question."

Gosden will send out two others -- Michelangelo and his pacemaker Dartford.

"Michelangelo is fine and has done nothing wrong in his four races. He was third in the (Group 3) Gordon Stakes at Goodwood which is not everybody's track.

"He was staying on well at the end of that race and so did Arctic Cosmos before winning the St Leger two years ago.

"Dartford is a pacemaker for Michelangelo," Gosden forthrightly said. "The one thing we do not want is a stop-start race. He is running to ensure a decent regular pace."

Dartford's presence could benefit Main Sequence, whose trainer David Lanigan was unhappy with the way the Great Voltigeur unfolded.

"Main Sequence worked on Saturday and everything went fine," Lanigan said. "He will have his final piece of work on Wednesday.

"He will also be left in the Prix Niel, but the plan is to go for the St Leger.

"I think the Great Voltigeur was a farce, to put it politely! It was run at a hack canter and the time was six seconds slower than any other race run that day. Basically, it turned into a sprint and Main Sequence is not a sprinter, it was very difficult for him.

"Hopefully, there will be plenty of pace in the St Leger, I know John Gosden is planning to run a pacemaker and it will be a true run race which is what we want.

"Ted Durcan will ride again."

Godolphin's Encke, who missed by a whisker in the Gordon, was most recently third to Thought Worthy and Main Sequence in the Great Voltigeur.

"Everything is fine with Encke, and I think that he will head to Doncaster in the same form as when he ran at York," trainer Mahmood al Zarooni remarked.

"This will be the biggest test of his career and we still don't know how good he really is. He has never been in a Group 1 contest before, but I think that he will run a good race -- he is a tough horse who always gives everything.

"The distance will be fine for him and he seems to cope with most types of ground. We can dream of beating Camelot but anything can happen in this game and our horse deserves to take his chance."

The connections of Great Voltigeur fifth Thomas Chippendale are also envisioning a turnaround. Two starts back, the Sir Henry Cecil pupil had beaten Thought Worthy in the Group 2 King Edward VII at Royal Ascot.

"Thomas Chippendale has been confirmed for the St Leger," said Barry Simpson, racing manager to owner Sir Robert Ogden.

"He is in good form and has been working well since he ran at York. We are looking forward to a good run from him.

"From our point of view, the Great Voltigeur was a bit of a wasted race as there was no pace and the time was very slow.

"I am not suggesting he would have won, but I think you can put a line through the race as a Leger trial for our horse. It certainly didn't suit us and maybe one or two of the other runners as well.

"As a Yorkshireman, I know the St Leger is a race Sir Robert would dearly love to win."

The progressive handicapper Guarantee, a commanding winner over 14 furlongs at York last out, takes a substantial class hike for trainer William Haggas.

"William reports Guarantee to be in great form," said Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing's Authorized syndicate. "His latest piece of work was on Friday and he worked well.

"Since York, he has been eating up, bucking and kicking. It is encouraging to know that the horse is clearly thriving and hopefully he is still improving too.

"Obviously, it is a massive leap from winning a 0-105 handicap to taking on classic horses in the St Leger, but this will be his last race of the season and we have nothing to lose.

"I would be delighted if we could be in the unsaddling enclosure with a horse in the first four on Saturday. Hopefully, he can do himself justice. Phillip Makin, who knows him so well, rides once again.

"Fingers crossed, we will get there in one piece. It will be great to see Camelot run but hopefully we can spoil the party! We have seen upsets in the St Leger, including Shergar, but for us it is just so exciting to just have a contender.

"Anything can happen with horses stepping up in trip, but at least we know our horse has proven stamina, as he won over a mile and six furlongs at York last time.

"Guarantee was a 50,000 guineas breeze-up horse and for the shareholders to have a runner in classic with a real shout is amazing.

"He will be our fourth runner in the St Leger. Our previous three runners all ran well, with Highest faring best when runner-up in 2002."

Another who rose from the handicap ranks is the Irish-based Ursa Major, who comes off a victory in the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial in his stakes debut. The Thomas Carmody trainee has the option of staying home for the Group 1 Irish St Leger, also on Saturday.

"Ursa Major has been left in the St Leger and the Irish St Leger," said Tim Jones, racing manager to owner Andrew Tinkler, "and the decision about where to run will be taken later in the week once we have seen the entries.

"He has improved with every run and we hope there is further improvement in him. It is typical of his breeding that he has improved as time has gone on.

"We are now throwing him in at the deep end on Saturday."

The going at Doncaster remained good to firm, good in places, as of Monday.

"We finished the weekend's watering cycle this morning, with an average of 20 millimeters applied to the track," Clerk of the Course Jon Pullin reported.

"The forecast is for a few showers in the early hours of tomorrow which should yield around two to three millimeters. Tomorrow and Wednesday are forecast to be overcast and there is a chance of some light showers.

"From Thursday onwards, conditions are predicted to become drier and brighter."

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