Friday, September 14, 2012

Irish Super-Star Thoroughbred Camelot and His American Farrier Jeff Henderson Are Two-Thirds of the Way to Winning the British Triple Crown

Jeff Henderson shoeing Camelot today at Ballydoyle Training Center in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Camelot will attempt to win the British Triple Crown on Saturday, September 15.
Time flies: Just 90 days ago, racing fans in the United States were on the edges of their seats. It was time for the Belmont Stakes, the third leg in the Triple Crown. I'll Have Another had won the first two legs.

Would we finally have a Triple Crown winner? No horse has won the American Triple Crown since 1978. It's been a long 34-year drought.

As we all know, it wasn't meant to be. The afternoon before the race, I'll Have Another was scratched and retired. He's now hard at work as a breeding stallion in Japan.

But hang on a minute. We might have a Triple Crown winner, after all. 

This video documenting Camelot's rise to superstardom is 18 minutes long. A highlight is when Aidan O'Brien nonchalantly describes Camelot's movement: "He moved more like a dressage horse than a racehorse, which was very unique. Usually horses that move like that are too good-looking to be true."

Spin the globe halfway around. Drop a map tack on Doncaster, England. That's the place to be on Saturday, September 15, 2012.

Perhaps no horse has won the USA's Triple Crown since 1978 but consider this: no horse has won the British Triple Crown in 42 years. The last winner was the great Nijinsky in 1970.

This third leg of England's Triple Crown is the St Leger, at slightly longer than 1 3/4 miles. Like most European races, it's on the grass.

And the horse with two-thirds of the Triple Crown already on his resume is named Camelot. 

He might be the horse to re-write the record books.

Jeff Henderson in Camelot's stall at Ballydoyle with the handsome champion colt.

Jeff Henderson, staff farrier at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Podiatry Center in Lexington, Kentucky was in Ireland this week with Camelot, as part of his consulting service for Coolmore trainer Aidan O'Brien, and will travel with the colt to England for Saturday's race.

Jeff shod Camelot on Friday at Coolmore's Ballydoyle training center outside Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland. Here's what he had to say:

Hoof Blog: Tell us about this horse!

Jeff Henderson: Camelot is shod and ready to run, his feet look good and he nails up well. I just shoe him with Kerckhaert raceplates and he gets nothing special. 

Hoof Blog: He's shod the day before the race?

Jeff Henderson: I try to keep it business as usual and just shoe him the same as any other time, so we do not get caught up in the hype.

Hoof Blog: What's the extent of your consultancy for Aidan O'Brien?

Jeff Henderson: I look after 20 to 30 horses in Ballydoyle and during racing season they are shod every 21 days. I spend 2 weeks at home and 1 week in Ireland from about March through November. I have to give a lot of credit to my wife for putting up with the schedule and handling everything at home while I am away. 

Hoof Blog: It must take a tribe of farriers to shoe all the horses at a center like Ballydoyle.

Jeff Henderson: There are two full-time farriers who work at Ballydoyle. I work closely with them when I am here and they deal with lost shoes and basically hold it together while I am gone. I have all the tools and gear here and can fly with just a carry-on bag and do all I need.

Hoof Blog: Possibly American readers don't know the type of operation you're describing. There's nothing like it in America. How do you get a contract like that?

Jeff Henderson: It is quite a privilege to get to work on a horse of this caliber. This is my third racing season shoeing for Ballydoyle. Dr. (Scott) Morrison and I came over three years ago for two days to do some consulting and I ended up staying for a week. 

Hoof Blog: How does it feel to be on the verge of making history with this horse?

Jeff Henderson: It is great to be part of a historic event and I hope for a fast and safe trip for all the horses in the race.

• • • • • • • • • •

Camelot's trainer, Ireland's Aidan O'Brien, can't say enough good things about this horse: “He looks different; everything about him is different. He’s flesh and blood, but there’s a vibe around this horse. There’s a bigger aura around him, and there has been from Day One,” he said today in an interview with Jennie Rees of the Louisville (Kentucky) Courier Journal.

He'll be ridden by the trainer's son, Joseph O'Brien. He's been trained at the same center as Nijinsky. He has a Japanese exercise rider. And an American farrier will be at--and on--his side on Saturday.


Camelot's Epsom Derby Victory Footnote: American Farrier Jeff Henderson on The Hoof Blog

Is Camelot enchanted? British Triple Crown would make his case by Jennie Rees for the Louisville Courier-Journal

Overlooking Camelot In Britain's Glorious Summer Of Sport by Teresa Genaro on

The race will be broadcast by HRTV and TVG racing networks on cable television in the USA beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

Story and photos protected by copyright; no use without permission. Photos courtesy of Jeff Henderson.

Click to order this usual and beautiful reference poster.

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