05/26/2013 2:05PM

The Curragh: Al Kazeem denies Camelot in Tattersalls Gold Cup

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There are two ways of looking at Camelot’s loss in the Tattersalls Gold Cup to Al Kazeem, a 5-year-old horse making his Group 1 debut Sunday at The Curragh in Ireland.

In one telling, Camelot is on a slow incline leading up to peak form this season, and in his second start of 2013, he happened to meet a sharp, improving performer with a fitness edge.

Another theory is that the formula for Camelot’s supposed stardom combined one part good horse and one part poor competition: Not a single horse Camelot beat in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy Stakes, his major victory at age 2, or in the English 2000 Guineas and Epsom and Irish derbies, Camelot’s big wins at 3, has so far turned out to be anything close to top class. It’s possible that mighty Camelot simply was defeated by a superior horse Sunday.

Defeated he was, with Al Kazeem and jockey James Doyle clocking Camelot and Joseph O’Brien for the entire Gold Cup trip. There were just four horses in the race, and as Windsor Palace led and Negotiate tracked, Camelot sat third, with Al Kazeem at his heels. When O’Brien made his move on Camelot a little more than a quarter-mile out, Doyle sent Al Kazeem along with him, and after a tussle for the better part of the home straight, Al Kazeem pushed past to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien said after the loss – his first in the Gold Cup since 2008 – that Camelot had gotten tired, and plans for appearances in major early-summer races remained unchanged.

As for Al Kazeem, the Roger Charlton-trained horse has been lightly campaigned, making only one start in 2012 after suffering an injury, and he may just now be fulfilling his potential. Al Kazeem won for the fifth time in 10 starts (while finishing worse than second only once) while displaying a strong closing kick.

Just the Judge wins Irish 1000 Guineas

In the other major race Sunday in Ireland, Just the Judge bounded to a 1 1/2-length victory over longshot Rehn’s Nest in the Irish 1000 Guineas. It was the first Group 1 win for Just the Judge, but there might well be more to come.

Just the Judge won all three of her starts at 2 and – ambitiously spotted – was a fine second of 15 on May 5 in the English 1000 Guineas, her first race at 3. Just the Judge probably improved from that comeback run and met slightly lesser opposition Sunday, pushing out to a fairly comfortable victory after getting a good tracking trip under Jamie Spencer.

Rehn’s Nest came out in front of a tight pack vying for second, finishing a head in front of Pretending, with Big Break another neck back in fourth.
Just the Judge is a Lawman filly owned by Qatar Racing Limited and the Sangster family, and she gave trainer Charles Hills his first Group 1 victory.