THE BHA HANDICAPPERS
Weblog: View from the team behind the official ratings
Camelot: came up short in Triple Crown bid at DoncasterPICTURE: Getty Images
Camelot owes nothing despite St Leger defeat
In any other season, a potential Triple Crown winner would be the talk of racing throughout the summer. In 2012 however, we have been treated to the freak that is Frankel, and Camelot, a superstar in his own right, has been somewhat overshadowed as a result, writes Stephen Hindle.
That said, there was no shortage of attention on him on Town Moor on Saturday, his superstar status underlined by the fact he had a couple of bodyguards following him around the parade ring!
Camelot went into the St Leger unbeaten in five starts, including the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby this season, and he was sent off at 2-5 to become the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970.
Connections of eventual third Michelangelo ran a pacemaker in the shape of the 74-rated Dartford, but he set a surprisingly modest tempo through the early stages and it wasn't the test it could have been.
Joseph O'Brien still looked to be holding on to a fair bit two furlongs out but Mickael Barzalona threw everything at Encke just in front of him and went a few lengths clear. Camelot was then asked for maximum effort but couldn't reel back Encke quickly enough and was three quarters of a length adrift at the line.
I got the feeling Camelot could have won under different circumstances and he clearly didn't repeat the form he showed in either of his Derby victories.
Encke turned around the Voltigeur form with Thought Worthy and Main Sequence having been only third in that race. The former shaped as if not staying the extra distance, while Main Sequence didn't help himself by planting at the start.
It's fair to say Encke has improved, though not by the 12lb he was rated inferior to the 124-rated Camelot going in. Michelangelo's win at Newmarket in June proved the most reliable guide to the form in my view.
Although rated only 111 before the Leger, he can be rated higher on a couple of other rivals from the race at Newmarket - 115 justifiable on two horses he beat that day - and that seemed a sensible mark considering it is the same one Main Sequence and Thought Worthy are on, both beaten by the third-placed Michelangelo at Doncaster.
That puts Encke on 120, which makes this a decent rather than outstanding renewal of the Leger. It is actually a lower figure than last year, when Masked Marvel was given 122, a mark he has failed miserably to repeat since, though the placed horses, Brown Panther and Sea Moon, have done the form justice this season.
It's a shame Camelot didn't pull off the victory but he owes us nothing in a season in which we have already been spoiled.
Another footnote to what has been a most enjoyable Flat campaign came just over 24 hours earlier, when Times Up, whose trainer John Dunlop had recently announced he'll be retiring, won the Group Two Doncaster Cup.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a good race from a handicapping perspective as the pace was steady, while the third, Hurricane Higgins and fourth, Repeater, put up seemingly much improved performances.
With that in mind, I couldn't bring myself to rate Times Up any higher than at York, where he won the Lonsdale Cup three weeks earlier from the same colt, High Jinx, who got to within a neck of the winner this time having been beaten by over two lengths on the Knavesmire. Both stay on 114 and 111 respectively.
DAWN APPROACH TOPS TWO-YEAR-OLD PILE
It was a busy week for the two-year old. We saw major candidates for the big championship races performing at Doncaster and The Curragh, writes Matthew Tester.
The best performance was in Ireland where Dawn Approach, not seen since winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, landed his Group One in great style. Only one horse got within nine lengths of him for a commanding win.
The third, fourth and fifth were all Group winners and I have now moved him up to 121 - top of the European pile. He could be even higher and has already surpassed the highest rating any two-year old earned last year. I hope to see him run again in the Dewhurst and expect him to add to his record there.
At Doncaster, there were two very exciting duels of high quality. In the Champagne Stakes the unbeaten Toronado held on by half a length from Dundonnell.
For the moment they are rated 114 and 113 respectively. There should be more to come from each of them, perhaps in the big mile races like the Racing Post Trophy or the Royal Lodge.
As expected, Certify won the May Hill Stakes. What was not expected was how hard pressed she was by Purr Along with only a head to spare at the line. There were eight lengths back to the rest so they both look to be fillies of quality.
Certify had beaten the fourth horse, Reyaadah, at Newmarket last time but here increased her superiority by 10lbs. For the moment I am going to split the difference and move Certify up 5lbs to 111.
I am hoping that the front two will renew their rivalry in the Fillies Mile. Bring it on.
SOLE POWER'S HOME IN SCARBROUGH
Sprinters have been getting a fair bit of coverage in this section recently so it would be remiss if the performance of Sole Power in winning the Listed Scarbrough Stakes wasn't given a mention, writes Chris Nash.
He has been a fixture in all the main 5f Group races this season and his best performance of 2012 had come in the Group Two Temple Stakes at Haydock in May when beaten a neck by Bated Breath with Spirit Quartz and Borderlescott filling third and fourth.
The subsequent performances of all of those have been covered in this blog recently. He also finished third in the Group 1 Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June where the Hong Kong trained Little Bridge was the winner.
Sole Power's sights were obviously lowered somewhat at Doncaster on Wednesday but, in my opinion, he produced a really classy display of sprinting.
It was the first time this season that I have seen him completely buried and he travelled for fun covered up. When Johnny Murtagh switched him into daylight to challenge he picked up the leaders readily and won going away. It was an impressive turn of foot and he was only nudged out with hands and heels.
The bare form is not quite at his earlier season level. He beat Jwala by one-and-a-half lengths. She is a progressive sprinter who was upped in class in this race but arrived with a pre-race rating of only 93, so has run a big career best. In third (and only a short-head behind the second) was Excelette who was a Listed winner at Haydock in June where she beat the subsequently much improved Spirit Quartz.
She arrived with a pre-race rating of 103 and her finishing position gives me something to base the race on. In giving her 3lbs and a one-and-a-half length beating (the equivalent of 5lbs over 5f) I have Sole Power running to 112+.
I will be advising my Irish colleagues that his pre-race rating of 115 should remain unaltered. Jwala ran to 102, which becomes her revised official rating and Excelette performed to a 105 - the rise in her official rating (to 105) being more than justifiable through her beating of Spirit Quartz.
The winner may well be off globe-trotting before the end of the year. Connections suggested that they will take a look at the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp but the horse has a well-documented preference for good or quicker ground and that is not guaranteed in France in early October.
However, if he gets his conditions, I'd expect him to run another mighty race. Options in Hong Kong later in the year may also be explored.