Camelot named Horse of the Year
Superstar colt Camelot was named Horse of the Year at the 10th annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards in a ceremony at the Pavilion at Leopardstown racecourse.
Camelot's honour, which sees him follow in the hoofprints of another son of the much-missed Montjeu, last year's winner Hurricane Fly, came in a tough category including stablemate Excelebration, Dawn Approach, Quevega, Sizing Europe and the defending champion.
Aidan O'Brien's three-year-old became the first son of his late sire to win a mile Classic in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas, and he added the Derby at Epsom and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh. His brave attempt to complete the British Triple Crown came up just short at Doncaster.
Owned by Coolmore, Camelot stays in training as a four-year-old and is expected to be a major player in all the top middle-distance events.
The Ballydoyle handler said: "He's good. He had a colic, as everyone knows, but he's in great order now and back cantering. He's heavier now than he's ever been before. It looks like he's physically done well from three to four, so if everything goes well next year we'll look forward to him.
"We always felt his best trip was somewhere from a mile to a mile and a quarter, so he'll probably be campaigned that way. He might start off at the Curragh in the Mooresbridge Stakes or one of those mile and a quarter races, then come to the Tattersalls (Gold Cup) and maybe have a look at (Royal) Ascot then.
"He was always very different and everything about him was always very special. He's an unbelievable looking horse with unbelievable use of himself and great balance. We were glad we were able to mind him and not destroy him to stop him showing his real ability, but he's very natural.
"You always dream, most dreams don't happen, but we always felt if we didn't do the wrong things he had a massive chance of being very special."
Camelot runs in the colours of Derrick Smith, whose son Paul said: "We had a fantastic season and I suppose the highlight would be the Epsom Derby. It was the first time Dad had won the race in his colours, having finished second four times, so it was a big thrill.
"From the get-go the boys said he was a beautiful mover. He probably possessed the ability of his father Montjeu and he had a great temperament, so if he did it on the racecourse he was going to be tough to beat. We couldn't do it without the whole team at Ballydoyle and we're just a small cog in a huge wheel."