|Tuesday 9th June 2020|
Can Kameko follow up Guineas heroics at Epsom Downs?
Kameko produced an excellent performance at the 2,000 Guineas to allow trainer Andrew Balding to claim victory at the event for the first time in his career. The Irish thoroughbred Pinatubo was the overwhelming favourite for the prestigious race at Newmarket.
However, Kameko with Oisin Murphy in the saddle rose to the occasion to win the race with a fine ride – just having the pace down the stretch to beat out Wichita by a neck. Due to the quality of the display of the bay colt, Kameko is now backed as the leading contender in the horse racing betting odds for The Derby on the Epsom Downs.
There is no doubt that Balding’s charge was extremely impressive in his triumph, although he will have to be even better in The Derby to win the second of the Triple Crown races this summer. The odds are against Kameko in his bid to be remembered as one of the all-time greats. No horse has completed the English Triple Crown since 1970 when Nijinsky won the 2,000 Guineas, The Derby and The St Leger in the same season.
Only one horse has come close since to achieving the feat which came in 2012 with Camelot. Aidan O’Brien’s charge was not at his best in the 2,000 Guineas, but managed to find a surge of acceleration when it mattered the most down the stretch. He closed out a tight victory by a neck ahead of French Fifteen to claim the victory.
Expectations were raised for his next outing in The Derby, although the field was packed with quality competitors, including Highclere. Joseph O’Brien took the reins and orchestrated an outstanding performance out of his charge. Camelot dominated his rivals to take the title by five lengths, etching his place in history – holding two out of the three crowns.
All eyes were on Camelot in the St Leger, having been rested by Aidan O’Brien ahead of the opportunity of a lifetime. However, at Doncaster Racecourse, the dreams of Camelot’s team were crushed when he was beaten by Encke. He endured a slow start to the race and was unable to gain enough ground on his rival down the stretch, losing out by three-quarters of a length.
The failure of Camelot proves how difficult it is completing the Triple Crown. Balding had failed to win a classic before Kameko’s triumph, but will now gear up for the ultimate challenge of preparing an assault for perhaps the most important prize in flat racing. Balding’s father Ian won the event in 1971 with Mill Reef, and he will be hopeful of matching that achievement 49 years later.
The standard of competition will only increase from the Guineas, while others may suit the increase in distance on the track. English King triumphed in the Derby Trial Stakes in Lingfield and will be looking to make an impact at the Epsom Downs. Military March finished fourth at Newmarket, but is considered to be a stronger competitor over one-and-half miles. Trainer Saeed bin Suroor has previous at The Derby and this may be his best chance at landing a winner since 1995.Kameko will have to be even better at The Derby to win the prestigious event. He had the pace when it mattered the most to see off Pinatubo along with the rest of the field at Newmarket. There will be much excitement when he lines up for his next crack at a classic to see whether the wait for a Triple Crown winner will end after a 50-year wait.