Oxx calls time as Sea The Stars retired


Racing:John Oxx’s brilliant colt Sea The Stars has been retired. The winner of an unprecedented six consecutive Group One races had been in the mix for the Breeders’ Cup Classic but connections have decided to call time on his career. Oxx had intimated retirement was likely after his latest win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The three-year-old capped a record-breaking season this month when he captured the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe to add to victories in the English 2000 Guineas, Derby, Eclipse, Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes.

Widely regarded as the finest horse of his generation, Sea the Stars' connections had been contemplating running him for a final time in the Breeder's Cup Classic in Santa Anita next month.

"We feel it is unfair to keep him going any further given his unprecedented record of achievement in the last six months," said Oxx in a statement. "He's come out of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in his usual good form. He is fit and healthy and has been cantering since the race.

"He is now retiring from racing but I have no information on stud career details and an announcement will be made at a much later date when plans have been finalised," added the trainer.

Owner Christopher Tsui has said Stars will not be sold as he holds too much of an emotional attachment for his family. Media reports speculated that he could raise as much as €34million at auction.

In all, Sea The Stars lost just one of his nine races during his two years on the track - in which time he amassed nearly €4.8million in prize money - and that was his racecourse debut at the Curragh where he finished a close-up fourth.

He then won his maiden on unfavourably soft ground before landing the Grade Two Beresford Stakes, hinting at what was to come this year.

Sent off at 8-1 for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, he beat hot favourite Delegator by a length and a half and became the first horse since Nashwan 20 years ago to follow up in the Derby, where he beat Fame And Glory by a length and three-quarters.

The Coral-Eclipse was next at Sandown where he beat subsequent Sussex Stakes and QEII winner Rip Van Winkle, with St Leger and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Conduit way back in third.

At York in the Juddmonte International, he scared everyone bar Aidan O’Brien away to make it four Group Ones in a row and followed up in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, beating old rival Fame And Glory.

But his crowning glory came at Longchamp when he landed Europe’s premier middle-distance race, overcoming trouble in running and a high-class field to win eased-down in the Arc.

His performance sparked comparisons with the likes of Dancing Brave, Mill Reef and Sea Bird.

Although no definitive answer will ever be reached, one thing is for sure - it will be a long time before we see his like again.

Factfile: Sea The Stars

Sire: Cape Cross
Dam: Urban Sea
Age: Three
Foaled: April 6th, 2006 in Ireland
Owner: Christopher Tsui
Trainer: John Oxx
Jockey: Mick Kinane

Career overview:

Jebel Ali Stables & Racecourse European Breeders Fund (C & G) Maiden at the Curragh, July 13th, 2008
An unassuming racecourse debut by the future champion, and the only race he has ever lost. Sea The Stars - a half-brother to 2001 Derby hero Galileo - was a tardy starter but showed some potential by running on well into fourth. However, he offered few clues that he would develop into the greatest racehorse in the world.

Korean Racing Authority European Breeders' Fund (C&G) Maiden at Leopardstown, August 17th, 2008
A well-backed Sea The Stars gets off the mark in good style. Despite racing on heavy ground - which would turn out to be his least favoured surface - Oxx's juvenile stretches comfortably clear of the field.

Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, September 28th, 2008
Sea The Stars first Group success and his last appearance as a juvenile. The colt only beats his stablemate, Mourayan, by half a length. Tucked away for the season, most assessments agreed Oxx's horse was an exciting prospect, although seen more of a Derby horse than a Guineas prospect.

Stanjames.com 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, May 2nd, 2009
With Oxx's first string Arazan missing the Guineas due to fast ground, Sea The Stars returns to the racecourse in the Newmarket Classic. Available to back at 8-1 on the day, he easily defeats pre-race favourite Delegator by a length and a half.

Investec Derby Stakes at Epsom, June 6th, 2009
With questions over Sea The Stars' stamina hitherto unanswered, the Aidan O'Brien trained Fame And Glory starts the Derby as favourite. But Sea The Stars produces a performance of remarkable quality to put his rivals to the sword, travelling supremely well throughout.

Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, July 4th, 2009
Sea the Stars scooped his third Group One of the season by dismissing another O'Brien horse, Rip Van Winkle. Coming into the final furlong, the Ballydoyle horse looms alongside Sea The Stars as if to pass, but Oxx's superstar finds plenty for pressure and strides on again.

Juddmonte International Stakes at York, August 18th, August 2009
Sea The Stars' reputation scares off all but three rivals for this Group One clash, and two of those are pacemakers for his main rival. Once again it is left to O'Brien to provide the challenge to Oxx's champion. His Mastercraftsman kicks clear of Sea The Stars in the home straight but is inevitably reeled in and passed.

Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, September 5th, 2009
Making his first return to home soil since his juvenile days, Sea The Stars once again defeats a spirited O'Brien-trained challenge. Fame And Glory, second in the Derby, reopposes but is defeated by two and a half lengths. Despite being on the go all season, that is the biggest winning margin of any of Sea The Stars Group One successes.

Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, October 4th
Undoubtedly the crowning glory of a monumental career. Very keen early on and having to lose ground as Kinane sought to settle him, the writing looked on the wall. Had the fairytale come to an end? Not a bit of it. In fact, having to extricate himself from such trouble in such a race as this only adds to the legend. He shot clear to win like a fresh horse. Remarkable.