Some of the star three-year-olds every season are horses who were largely unknown before the campaign began, usually horses who were either unraced at two or whose first term was confined to one or a few outings in maiden, conditions or nursery class.
It is too early to know if Graphite is going to carve out a Group 1 career for himself, but the thrice-raced grey made a winning 2017 debut in the Group 3 Prix La Force over nine furlongs at Chantilly recently, thereby raising awareness of his potential classic candidacy.
Godolphin's son of outstanding Kildangan Stud stallion Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway) is trained by Andre Fabre, he was bred by Haras de Saint Pair, and this was his second win from just three starts.
Graphite was only beaten by a length when fourth in a mile maiden at Maisons-Laffitte in late September, a month before a narrow success over a furlong farther on soft ground at the same venue. The going on 9th April was described as good, he beat Phelps Win by a neck with favourite Franz Schubert a head back in third and Kensai another three-parts of a length away in fourth.
Graphite is a half-brother to the listed race winner Fairly Fair (by Sinndar) and he is a half-brother to Fairly Ransom (by Red Ransom), who was a Group 2-placed stakes winner in France before going on to win the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby and take the runners-up spot in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in California.
Their dam, Fairly Grey (by Linamix), was placed in both the Group 3 Prix d'Aumale and Group 3 Prix de Meautry and she is a full-sister to Group 1 star and successful National Hunt sire Fair Mix, the Shade Oak Stud stallion whose offspring feature the tragically ill-fated Grade 1 star Simonsig.
Fair Mix's top-level score came in the Prix Ganay, his eight wins also included the Group 3 Dubai City of Gold, Listed Prix de Reux, and two editions of the Group 3 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte, and the races in which he was placed featured the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly, Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt, Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville, and the Group 1 Prix Ganay.
Triple stakes winner Fairlee Wild (by Wild Again) is the grandam of Graphite, both her dam and a variety of her closest relations were blacktype placed, and one of her siblings was the dam of two stakes winners and grandam of a US Grade 3 handicap scorer.
More eye-catching, however, is that the fifth dam, Raise The Levee (by Raise a Native), was an unraced daughter of Coaching Club American Oaks, Beldame Stakes, and Monmouth Oaks heroine Levee (by Hill Prince) and that made her a half-sister to US Hall Of Fame member Shuvee (by Nashua).
That outstanding filly, a multiple US champion, won 16 times including those same three top events taken by her dam plus the Frizette Stakes, Mother Goose Stakes, Acorn Stakes, Alabama Stakes, and two editions of each of the Top Flight Handicap, Diana Handicap, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, among other races of note.
There are many other top horses to be found in those more distant branches of the family, other descendants of Graphite's sixth dam Levee – including Breeders' Cup stars Sacahuista (by Raja Baba) and Spain (by Thunder Gulch), Group 1 Irish St Leger winner Meneval (by Le Fabuleux), Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks heroine Pleascach (by Teofilo), and Timeform 126-rated Group 1 scorer Ekraar (by Red Ransom) – but their presence on the extended page is of no more than academic interest.
Graphite looks likely to stay the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club distance, and possibly a bit farther, and it will be interesting to see how far up he can climb in the ratings.