Staking a claim to be Ireland’s greatest racehorse of all time, Sea the Stars’ owners are still aiming at California, writes Richard Chambers
In what could prove to be the Irish colt’s final race, Sea the Stars overcame a difficult start to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last week. Emerging from a pack of fifteen, the three-year-old colt produced a miraculous recovery to manoeuvre out of difficulty and surge into the lead on the home straight. By winning the prestigious Paris race, Sea the Stars may now be considered among the greatest horses in turf racing history.
It was the crowning of a year that amounted to six group one wins, in the process becoming the first horse to win the triumvirate of the Epsom Derby, the 2,000 Guineas and ‘the Arc’. Ridden to all six triumphs by veteran jockey Mick Kinane, the Curragh-trained colt may now be finally showing signs of fatigue.
“His coat is gone,” remarked trainer John Oxx following the most recent victory. “He’s a phenomenal horse. You would hate to do anything wrong by him.” Oxx’s comments may dampen speculation that Sea the Stars would participate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in California on 7th November.
Many racing experts believe that he simply has nothing left to prove. Sea the Stars could possibly now be retired to stud, where owner Christopher Tsui can expect to fetch up to €100 million for the champion colt should he decide to sell him. The consensus now is that he is likely to be retired to the Irish National Stud in Tully, Co. Kildare.
However, Tsui has no intentions of ruling out travelling to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup, as huge interest is mounting in the American racing world over his potential participation. Santa Anita president Ron Charles has admitted that he is lobbying for Sea the Stars to take part, acknowledging that the Classic needs what he termed a “marquee horse”. Whatever decision is taken by Tsui and Oxx, the legacy of Sea the Stars is guaranteed.
The Curragh racehorse comes from a rich line of former greats. The offspring of Uran Sea, a previous winner of the Arc, and thoroughbred Cape Cross, he seemed almost destined for success. The natural attributes of Sea the Stars are unrivalled by any current ride. Indeed, the versatility that has carried him to victories at every distance has led Oxx to describe him as “the Usain Bolt of the equine world.”
The comparisons are plain to see: the strong finishes at the Eclipse and the 2,000 Guineas, the physical domination of the field at Epsom and Leopardstown, and the temperament to keep cool at the Arc are all reminiscent of the Jamaican sprinter. “He’s not just the best horse I’ve ever trained,” remarked Oxx before the coup at the Arc, “he’s the horse of a lifetime.” Of that there is now little doubt.