By Jon Lees
Australia: The coronavirus outbreak has got in the way of an audacious plan by Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Danny O’Brien to bring Russian Camelot, the first northern hemisphere-bred winner of the South Australian Derby, to Britain to contest the Investec Derby.
The news was confirmed by O’Brien who revealed he had even gone as far as booking a flight to send the colt to Britain for the Epsom Classic.
Addressing the subject in a tweet on Sunday, O’Brien said: “RC was inoculated earlier this year and had been booked with IRT to fly to the UK on 20/5 to contest the Derby on 6/6. Unfortunately COVID has intervened and as yet there is no confirmed date for this years Derby.”
Russian Camelot is an Irish-bred son of 2012 Derby winner Camelot bought for 120,000gns at the Tattersalls October 2018 sale. He made history on Saturday by becoming the first northern hemisphere-bred horse to win any of Australia’s Derbys.
He was not among the original entries for the Derby, which have now been scrapped because the Epsom Classic will not place on its traditional June date. Efforts are now being made to reschedule the race to July 4.
O’Brien, speaking to The Age in a story published on the trainer’s website, said: “We had him booked on a flight in ten days’ time before the world changed with coronavirus, it was a bit of a dream if he could win in Adelaide to take him home.
“It would have been good to try and win two Derbies with him and try and get one back for Australia. He would have gone straight into the Epsom Derby, like horses that come out here for the [Melbourne] Cup. He would have been fit and ready to go.”
Russian Camelot is now likely to be given a break before being prepared for a tilt at the Melbourne Cup. The colt has been installed favourite for the race his stable captured with Vow And Declare last year.
The trainer added: “”We don’t know when [the Derby] is going to be on over there at the moment, and it’s getting a bit late for us to get back for our spring.
“The timing was right from the South Australian Derby. It was a dream for me, going to Royal Ascot. Once we get a date we will still look at the Derby, but the Melbourne Cup is an obvious race for him now.”