The legendary Sea the Stars made his racing debut on Darley Irish Oaks day, and a decade later his daughter, Sea of Class, looks a prime fancy to win the fillies classic at the Curragh this Saturday.
It was on Irish Oaks day in 2008 that Sea the Stars began a momentous racing career in a two-year-old maiden. Arguably the finest racehorse ever bred or trained in Ireland finished only fourth, but was never beaten again.
Ten years and eight days later, Sea of Class will get the chance to secure her own slice of classic glory in the €400,000 highlight.
The William Haggas-trained filly has been made an initial 5-2 second favourite after 15 entries were left in the fourth Irish classic of 2018 at Tuesday’s forfeit stage.
Sea the Stars spent much of his subsequently epic 2009 campaign fighting off runners from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle team, and his daughter’s task on Saturday looks like being much the same.
O’Brien’s seven entries include Paddy Power’s 7-4 favourite Magic Wand, winner of Royal Ascot’s Ribblesdale Stakes, and the Epsom Oaks heroine Forever Together.
Only Sea of Class disrupts Ballydoyle’s stranglehold at the top of the Oaks betting, with September, Magical and Bye Bye Baby also towards the top of the market. Willie McCreery’s Liquid Amber is next best at 16-1. The local Curragh trainer also has the option of running Mary Tudor in the race.
British-based trainer David Lanigan has left in the Windsor handicap winner Worth Waiting, while Haggas can also let Dramatic Queen take her chance. However, Sea of Class is the Newmarket trainer’s No 1 hope for a first Irish classic victory.
Sea of Class will be ridden by James Doyle – already an Irish 2,000 Guineas winner on board Kingman – and the jockey has acknowledged how the O'Brien team look the ones to beat.
“Sea of Class has been impressive in winning a couple of Listed races. She has a smart turn of foot and seems to be heading in the right direction.
“Everything’s positive. In her second race we sat out the back to try and teach her to pass horses, and she did it well, beating Athena, who has won a Grade One in America since. We’ll just have to see what Aidan runs, I guess,” Doyle reported.
Like her sire, Sea of Class was beaten on her racing debut in April but has won twice since including at Newbury last month.
Sea the Stars has already sired an Epsom Oaks winner in Taghrooda and his son Harzand completed the Derby double at the Curragh in 2016.
Watering continues to take place at the Curragh ahead of this weekend’s action, which also sees a pair of Group Two events run on Sunday.
The Kilboy Estate Stakes entry includes the Oaks possibles, September and Magical. The latter hasn’t run since April when out of the frame in a classic trial in France. The Sapphire Stakes entry contains last year’s winner, Caspian Prince.
Last year’s amateur riders contest at Killarney spawned plenty of headlines when another Sea the Stars’ progeny, Stars over the Sea, finished first only for the race to be declared void by the stewards. The winner subsequently regained the prize on appeal.
Wednesday evening’s renewal has attracted the 2016 Irish Leger hero Wicklow Brave who looks classy enough to make the outcome much more predictable.
His stable companion Townshend returns to the flat under Rachael Blackmore in a two-mile handicap, while at Fairyhouse the stalwart Sharjah can rattle off the firm ground to secure a 14th career victory in his 106th start.