No horse has won the Triple Crown since Nijinsky swept the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger in 1970, but Camelot (by Montjeu) came close in 2012. He beat French Fifteen by a neck in the first leg, thrashed Main Sequence by five lengths in the second, and then failed by three-parts of a length to beat the ill-fated Encke at Doncaster.
He won the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh first time out as a four-year-old, chased home Al Kazeem in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup over a half-furlong farther at that venue three weeks later, and finished fourth behind that same rival in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot on his final start. His top Timeform rating was 128.
He has been an understandably popular member of the Coolmore stallion team since retiring from the track, and although he was not precocious – his only two juvenile outings were over a mile, spaced three months apart, and featured defeat of Zip Top in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy – it was always on the cards that he would get plenty of first-crop winners in the second half of the season.
His final total was 20 winners from a large number of runners, they include the pattern-placed Italian stakes winner Wait Forever and German listed scorer Alounak, plus two stakes-placed individuals, and they are headed by Fighting Irish, who took a three-runner edition of the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte in mid-October.
The Harry Dunlop-trained colt took that six-furlong contest by a head and three lengths from Nebo and French Pegasus, and this came three weeks after he ran away with a nursery over the same trip at Yarmouth. He got off the mark at the third attempt, when scoring at Salisbury in late July, but has been out of the frame in his other three starts.
Of course, six furlongs is not the sort of trip over which you would expect to see a son of Camelot prove best, even one who, like Fighting Irish, comes from a family that is strongly associated with producing Group 1 milers. It seems likely, therefore, that he will stay that distance and that would give him plenty of options.
Depending on what he has inherited from his sire, it is also possible that he will stay 10 furlongs – Camelot can be expected to get his best winners anywhere from a mile and upwards – and the stallion has already been represented this year by the aforementioned Alounak, who ran away with an 11-furlong listed Derby trial on soft ground at Dusseldorf on Sunday.
Fighting Irish is yet another notable horse bred by Pat O'Kelly's Kilcarn Stud, he made €50,000 in Goffs as a foal, £70,000 in Doncaster as a yearling, and earned almost £102,000 last season. He has an official handicap mark of 104, and Timeform rate him 102, so he clearly needs to show a lot of improvement if he is to be up to winning again in pattern company.
He is entered in Wednesday's Listed bet365 European Free Handicap at Newmarket and presumably a good effort there could see him travel to ParisLongchamp next month to take his place in the line-up for the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas).
He is the best of the first four foals out of Quixotic (by Pivotal), his dam is an unraced full-sister to Group 1 Lockinge Stakes winner Virtual, and the pair are three-part siblings to Iceman (by Polar Falcon), who won the Group 2 Coventry Stakes and earned placings in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and Group 1 Middle Park Stakes as a two-year-old.
Their dam is Virtuous (by Exit To Nowhere), who earned her blacktype when finishing third in the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield, and that mare is a half-sister to Dancing Debut (by Polar Falcon), who was a non-winner on the track but successful at stud.
Her daughter Dance Parntner (by Danzero) won five times over middle-distances including the Listed John Musker Fillies' Stakes over 10 furlongs at Yarmouth, the late Kindlelight Debut (by Groom Dancer) was a stakes-placed winner of 10 races from seven to nine and a half furlongs, and unraced Flames (by Blushing Flame) became the dam of Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Lahaleeb (by Redback).
That filly, who was sold for 1,000,000gns in Newmarket as a three-year-old, also won the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes and she was a neck runner-up to Again in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas.
The fourth dam of Fighting Irish is the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Gheest winner Exclusive Order (by Exclusive Native) and it is that high-class sprinter-miler who gave us the star siblings Entrepreneur (by Sadler's Wells) and Exclusive (by Polar Falcon) as well as Oaks-placed listed scorer Dance A Dream (by Sadler's Wells).
Although that last-named one and her stakes-winning full-brother Sadler's Image were middle-distance horses, Entrepreneur won the Group 1 2000 Guineas and classic-placed Exclusive took the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. Both of those milers then went on to success at stud.
Entrepreneur did not get as many stakes winners as would have been hoped, but they included Group 1 Irish Oaks heroine Vintage Tipple and also Damson, the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes-winning dam of Group 2 scorer and blacktype stallion Requinto (by Dansili).
Exclusive, on the other hand, is the dam of Group 1-placed, Group 2-winning miler Chic (by Machiavellian) and of prolific pattern winner Echelon (by Danehill), the Group 1 Matron Stakes heroine who gave us Group 1 Falmouth Stakes and Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes star Integral (by Dalakhani).
This is a famous Cheveley Park Stud family, and Quixotic left that team when sold for 105,000gns at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale in 2010, as an unraced two-year-old.
It remains to be seen just how good her son will be at his peak, but regardless of how his career turns out, his young sire, Camelot, has made an eye-catching start to his stallion career and can be expected to supply more stakes and pattern winners as the year progresses, including some who will perform with credit in Group 1 company.