Godolphin’s Encke has won the 2012 Ladbrokes St Leger, defeating red hot favourite Camelot, who was seeking to become the first horse in 42 years to win the Triple Crown.
Camelot, sent off the 2/5 favourite, won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Derby at Epsom earlier in the year, but became the first horse since 1931 to fail to clinch the Triple Crown.
Generally unconsidered, 25/1 shot Encke, ridden by last year’s Epsom Derby winning jockey Mickael Barzalona and trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, had first run on the field and was holding Camelot comfortably enough at the line. The official winning distance was three-quarters of a length.
Joseph O’Brien had his father’s horse anchored towards the rear for the majority of the contest, but interestingly, he was not as far back as he was at Epsom. As the field turned for home, he appeared to have plenty left in the tank and early in the straight, it looked as though O’Brien would go for a run up the inside.
Indeed Camelot was travelling strongly. However, as Thought Worthy made his move, he was followed by Encke, who was travelling as well as anything down the straight. As Encke was ridden over a furlong from home, he quickened well to take the lead, pulling a couple of lengths clear in the process. Camelot, meanwhile, was ridden to challenge and took a little longer than expected to pick up. When he did begin to run on it was too late and he could not reach the all-blue shadow of Barzalona. The bird had flown. Encke had won the St Leger. The Triple Crown dream was over.
Whilst shock reverberated around Doncaster, Godolphin’s Simon Crisford, Mahmood Al Zarooni and Mickael Barzalona began celebrating.
Michelangelo was one of the first to come off the bit, but ran on nicely for third and will improve again for a further step up in trip. His stablemate Thought Worthy faded in the end to sixth.
Although it is likely that the word ‘fluke’ will be brandished around about Encke’s triumph, or perhaps more likely, about Camelot’s defeat, nothing should be taken away from the winner. He had close form with the likes of Thought Worthy and Main Sequence over inadequate trips and had previously beaten the likes of Michelangelo and Thomas Chippendale. He was not stopping at the end and was striding out well. Connections could look forward to a lucrative 2012 with him.
For now, however, England’s wait for a Triple Crown hero goes on.
Image courtesy of skysports.com