Sea The Stars in different galaxy

 

SEA THE STARS put the seal on an incredible 2009 season by winning yesterday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with a display that catapulted him into the pantheon of all-time great racehorses. Under an ice-cool ride from Michael Kinane, Sea The Stars justified odds-on favouritism from the English-trained Youmzain, who finished runner-up for the third year running, with France’s Cavalryman in third.

It brought the Irish-trained superstar’s tally for the season to six wins from six starts, all in Group One company, and provoked some seasoned observers to suggest Sea The Stars could be the finest horse ever to race in Europe.

Curragh trainer John Oxx’s high hopes that Sea The Stars would end his Classic season with a victory in Europe’s greatest all-aged race came through with a style that had even the most sober reaching for superlatives.

“A phenomenal horse,” was Kinane’s succinct summation of a dominant performance that looked far from certain in the early stages as a slow pace contributed to Sea The Stars fighting for his head in uncharacteristically headstrong fashion.

However, fears that a long season would catch up with him in the Arc proved unfounded as 50-year-old Kinane, previously twice an Arc winner in 1989 and 1999, steered a path up the inside rail that saw Sea The Stars hit the front a furlong out and put the race to bed in a matter of strides.

“I ended up in a position I didn’t want, and a little bit further back than ideal. But I knew he had the pace to get him through in the straight,” Kinane said.

Typically Oxx was an oasis of calm in the midst of scenes more reminiscent of winter racing at Cheltenham. Afterwards the 59-year-old trainer was full of praise for a horse he trains for Hong Kong businessman, Christopher Tsui.

“He is a great, great horse to keep winning like this,” he said. “No horse in any race has more speed than he has and Mick was never worried. A horse like that can get himself out of trouble.” Bookmakers now make Sea The Stars an 8 to 13 favourite to carry his dominance across the Atlantic and beat the best of the Americans in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita next month.

“That is November 7th and I am not sure how we would all feel about that. We will leave the dust settle before making a decision. To have got as far as the Arc is a lot to be thankful for,” Oxx said.

Later in the afternoon, he and Kinane had even more to be thankful for as Alandi won the Group One Prix du Cadran on the same card. Aidan O’Brien’s star stayer Yeats finished third in what was the final start of his career.

See also page 8