Aidan O’Brien landed his sixth victory in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas when favourite Camelot came with a strong late run to win by a neck from French Fifteen.
Given a supremely confident ride by 18-year-old Joseph O’Brien, who was recording his first British Classic success, the son of Montjeu was near last early in the race and, with the runners split into three groups, made steady progress through the pack racing closest to the stands, which also included the runner-up. Third-placed Hermival, one of three French runners in the race, came home best of those racing on the far side of the course to finish two and a quarter lengths behind his compatriot.
Having been favourite for the Guineas since his emphatic win in the Racing Post Trophy last October, Camelot’s victory saw him cut from 5/2 to even-money favourite for his next target, the Investec Derby on June 2.
Aidan O’Brien, who won his first 2,000 Guineas in 1998 with King Of Kings, said: “I can’t tell you how privileged we feel to be in the position we’re in – for the lads to let Jospeh ride him and do everything. It’s one of those special days that you dream will happen.
“It’s a big relief. We always thought he was special. He is one of those horses who moves too well and looks too good that he’s almost too good to be true, but we are here today and it is a great day.
“The lads will speak about his next target but the Derby is something to get excited about and looking at him you would think he is suitable.”
Camelot became the first Classic-winning miler for his sire, who died at Coolmore in March and has enjoyed tremendous success in the Derby and Irish Derby with three winners of each race.
Asked whether the Triple Crown was a realistic option for the Guineas winner, Joseph O’Brien said: “It’s not beyond the realms of possibility. All the stats were against him today. Everyone knew that a three-year-old Montjeu had never one a Group 1 over a mile and you’d like to think he’d get further.”
The Nicolas Clement-trained French Fifteen is likely to be seen next in either the St James’s Palace Stakes or Prix du Jockey Club, while Hermival could be aimed at the Irish 2,000 Guineas, which was won in 2005 by his sire Dubawi.
“It was a pity that he was on his own on that side,” said Hermival’s trainer Mikel Delzangles, who trained Makfi to win the 2,000 Guineas in 2010. “He was left in front very early and it was just a bit far for him to go on his own.”
There was some consolation later in the day for Delzangles when his Derby hope Kesampour, whom he trains for the Aga Khan, won the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud.