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King' Best (2000)
Rock Of Gibraltar (2002)
George Washington (2006)
King’s Best only saw a racecourse six times between August 1999 and July 2000 but that didn’t stop him producing one of the most stunning 2,000 Guineas performances in the modern era.
However, you would have got huge odds about such an outcome at halfway as Kieren Fallon found himself at the back of a big field of runners that congregated towards the stands’ side rail.
Despite getting awash with sweat beforehand, the highly-strung son of Kingmambo weaved his way through rivals before sprinting clear of the previously unbeaten Giant’s Causeway (who went on to win FIVE Group 1’s that season) in the final furlong.
The quite breathtaking three-and-a-half length success was the biggest winning distance since Zafonic won by an identical margin in 1993.
Injury ruled the colt out of his bid for Derby glory at Epsom and connections wasted no time retiring him to stud after he was pulled up in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.
King’s Best might not have won a Derby as a racehorse, but he did as a sire when Workforce, also trained by the great Sir Michael Stoute, smashed the Epsom track record in 2010.
Rock Of Gibraltar is in an elite group of horses that transcended the sport to become a household name thanks to a bitter ownership dispute between Coolmore supremo John Magnier and former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson – who had been gifted a 50 per cent share in the colt after he won the Group 3 Railway Stakes at The Curragh in 2001.
‘The Rock’ appeared to be Aidan O’Brien’s second string going into the 2002 renewal of the 2,000 Guineas, given the stable were also represented by 6/4 market leader Hawk Wing – the choice of then stable jockey Jamie Spencer.
However, fortune favoured Rock Of Gibraltar who was advantageously placed towards the far rail having been drawn on the wing, and it was clear that the group on that section of the track were well ahead entering the final furlong. Hawk Wing, drawn towards the stands’ side, flew home down the middle of the track but failed by a neck to reel in The Rock.
Rock Of Gibraltar went on to win five Group 1 races in succession as a three-year-old before a luckless trip in the Breeders’ Cup Mile ended his winning run.
That was the last we saw of ‘The Rock’ on the track, but the long-running dispute over his ownership rights rumbled on until March 2004 when Ferguson relinquished any rights to the horse’s stud earnings by accepting a compromise deal worth £2.5million.
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Even by Ballydoyle standards, George Washington carried the most enormous of reputations. The bay son of Danehill was a brilliant juvenile and his quite stunning eight-length success in the Group 1 Pheonix Stakes marked him down as a potential superstar of the sport.
Only colts out of the very top drawer possess the kind of turn of foot that propelled George Washington to the front of the 2,000 Guineas field as they went into the dip, which was where he stayed. It was a performance that drew superlatives from all quarters, not least his jockey Kieren Fallon, who said afterwards: “He's got an electrifying turn of foot. He's done everything. He's a great horse alright.”
Early season Classic form doesn’t always work out well but this particular edition of the colt’s classic proved a red-hot guide. Runner-up Sir Percy went on to win the Derby the following month while fourth-placed Araafa landed the Irish 2,000 Guineas and St. James’s Palace Stakes on his next two starts.
As for George Washington, he was found to be lame when only second at The Curragh but he returned to his brilliant best that Autumn with a commanding success in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
However, George Washington’s stud career proved short-lived after fertility issues came to light. He returned to the track the following year but was unable to replicate the levels of performance that he did as a three-year-old.
Camelot will forever be remembered as the first horse from Ballydoyle to win the 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby. He was also the only winning ride in the first colt’s classic of the season for O’Brien’s son, Joseph, who also steered the colt to Derby glory.
As the 2012 season evolved, it became apparent that Coolmore had a genuine shot at winning the Triple Crown, a feat not achieved by any horse since Nijinsky in 1970.
So September 15, 2012 was a huge day for the stallion makers at Coolmore. Camelot was sent off a red-hot 2/5 favourite to complete the famous treble at Doncaster and everything pointed to a comfortable success for the son of Montjeu, but there was a sting in the tail in the shape of 25/1 outsider Encke, who was trained by subsequently disgraced trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni.
The following year, Zarooni was banned from racing for eight years after being found to have used anabolic steroids while Encke, who denied Camelo his place in the history books, tested positive for banned substance stanozolol.
As for Camelot, he wasn’t able to add further top-flight victories to his CV, but he quickly made into a top-class sire of middle-distance horses and he completed the circle in his relationship with Joseph O’Brien when Latrobe won the 2018 Irish Derby, providing O’Brien with his first British classic as a trainer.
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Ryan Moore’s first 2,000 Guineas success could hardly have been anymore straightforward. Gleneagles was bred to be special and that’s exactly what he turned out to be on the track.
Right up there with the best of the 2014 two-year-old crop, Gleneagles would have ended his first season on the track as a dual Group 1 winner had the Longchamp stewards not, rather harshly, demoted him from first to third in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
Gleneagles established himself as the next great stallion of milers at Coolmore with an authoritative success in the 2,000 Guineas, a performance backed up by two more top-flight wins over the same trip that season – the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Gleneagles was so highly regarded at Ballydoyle that his trainer is on record as saying: “I don’t think we’ve had a miler as good as him,” – which is extraordinarily high praise given some of the great colts trained by O’Brien.
By the outstanding sire Galileo and out of a full sister to Coolmore’s great miler Giant’s Causeway, Gleneagles had everything required to become a great sire and he delivered instant results from the paddocks with two Newmarket Group 2 winners and a Royal Ascot Listed winner from his first crop.
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