Regarded as one of the best racehorses of all time, Sea The Stars was the top horse of 2009 when he won the 2000 Guineas, the Derby, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and more.
In terms of the way he was campaigned, he was one of the last great champions to be trained in a certain way.
Already owners, breeders and, in some cases trainers, run scared of giving horses of this class so many tough tasks in a year.
Not surprisingly, Sea The Stars was the champion three-year-old in Europe in 2009 and Cartier’s Horse of the Year.
He is now a very successful sire.
Sea The Stars’ Pedigree
Sea The Stars was foaled on April 6th, 2006. He was bred by Sunderland Holdings Ltd, a breeding operation run by the Tsui family, primarily Christopher Tsui.
As a half-brother to the great Galileo, much was expected of the colt from the beginning and his breeding really did speak for itself.
|Sire/Dam||Grand Sire/Dam||Great Grand Sire/Dam|
|Cape Cross||Green Desert||Danzig|
|Urban Sea||Miswaki||Mr Prospector|
The dam of Sea The Sars, Urban Sea, was herself a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner on the track and was a top-class race mare. She is one of the top broodmares of all time.
Via her, Sea The Stars is a half-brother to not only Galileo but also Black Sam Bellamy, My Typhoon and All Too Beautiful.
Sea The Stars’ Stud Career
Sea The Stars’ own stud career has been wonderful. As of 2023 he stands at Gilltown Stud in Ireland for a whopping €180,000.
His retirement to stud was first announced on October 13th, 2009 by his trainer soon after he landed the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Even after one Group 1-winning season, he had nothing at all left to prove on the track.
Some, especially jumps racing fans, often cannot understand such a move. Many think the public need time to get to know a horse, but Flat horses such as Sea The Stars are responsible for keeping the breed going.
Rather than a two-year career (on the track), via his stud duties as of 2023 it has been a 15-year career and counting with many of his offspring thrilling us every year at major festivals.
Standing at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud, Sea The Stars has been so far responsible for:
- Baaeed – six-time Group 1 winner, top horse of 2022.
- Crystal Ocean – top-class 3-5-year-old, Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner.
- Stradivarius – all-time great stayer, three-time Ascot Gold Cup and four-time Goodwood Cup winner.
- Taghrooda – high-class filly, winner of the Oaks and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Other top-class names many will recognise by Sea The Stars include Cloth Of Stars, Harzand, Hukum, Sea Of Class, Al Aasy, Mutakayyef, Emily Upjohn, Star Catcher and more.
Despite being incredibly well bred and now siring champions of his own, racehorses like Sea The Stars get their reputation among the public by doing just that – racing. Sea The Stars was hardly a slouch in that regard.
In 2008 at two years old, he made his debut at the Curragh in July. Despite recording a decent figure of his own, he was in a hot maiden and at 6/1 wasn’t expected to win. In fact, he indeed ran green and had a poor trip, finishing a decent fourth.
He was a cosy winner at Leopardstown next time before being sent to the Group 2 Beresford Stakes. He won that at the Curragh by just a half-length under Mick Kinane and it was obvious the horse had serious potential. He was then put away for the winter by trainer John Oxx.
It was felt that Sea The Stars, despite no Group 1 experience as a juvenile, could head straight for a Classic.
His first race of 2009 was the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in which he was sent off an 8/1 chance. Delegator, the Craven winner, was the 3/1 favourite.
It had been reported in March that the horse had suffered from a viral infection, meaning some weren’t sure he’d had the best prep without a lead-up race. His team still wanted him to go over a mile first though, so his declaration stood.
After breaking, Sea The Stars travelled nicely into the race. Beautifully ridden, he hit the front and pulled away in the final furlong going up the hill to score.
With that race taken care of and with a step up in trip needed, the Derby was next on the agenda. Some were concerned in fact about his stamina, especially given the strength of the 2009 field at Epsom.
Sea The Stars was sent off the 11/4 second-favourite behind Ballydoyle’s Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial winner Fame And Glory (9/4).
Racing strongly again, this time close to the pace, the colt was just encouraged along to reach the leader three from home up the straight. He took the lead himself with 1½ furlongs to travel, staying on best of all to win from the favourite. Mick Kinane later said the victory felt “easy”.
Initially, Sea The Stars was to do for a Derby double in Ireland, but was withdrawn due to the going. Instead, the following week, he was dropped to ten furlongs to take part in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown against his elders.
Once more, he travelled very well into the race but with the leaders fading quickly, he had to hit the front sooner than his rider intended.
Though another Aidan O’Brien star Rip Van Winkle made a big challenge two from home, Sea The Stars used not only his class but his now proven staying ability to stretch out and win by 1½ lengths.
Staying at a mile and a quarter in August, Sea The Stars’ next assignment was in yet another top-class, valuable event, the Juddmonte International at York.
By now his reputation was preceding him and only four horses were sent to challenge him. Though the four were high class, he was a restrictive 1/4 price at the off on the Knavesmire as many expected him to be the star of the Ebor Meeting.
Going easily through a gap up the straight, Sea The Stars took the lead and stretched away in the final furlong to win by a length, breaking York’s track record by 0.8 seconds. That feat cannot be overestimated.
Though the ground was ‘good to yielding’, a little softer than ideal, it was decided that Sea The Stars would return to Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Stakes over 1¼ miles in September.
With Derby runner-up Fame And Glory set to run, who’d since won the Irish Derby by five lengths, this was seen as a dual between the two. Fame And Glory in fact held his own in the market at 9/4, Sea The Stars going off at a pretty backable 4/6.
Initially as the race got going in earnest, Fame And Glory’s rider Johnny Murtagh got first run and the pair were favourites in-running. Mick Kinane did not panic however, easily sweeping past his big rival with two furlongs still to go and then going clear by some 2½ lengths. Purely on ratings, it was to be his biggest performance.
Having taken in two Classics, two all-aged summer showpieces and a potentially gruelling Irish Champion, Sea The Stars could easily have been considered to be over the top come October.
Having none of that, his team entered him in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris, Europe’s richest race.
The usual high-class field turned up, 19 of them in fact, with Sea The Stars going off at 4/6 favourite ahead of old rivals Fame And Glory and Conduit among others.
The colt got out of the stalls quickly and was pulling hard, perhaps owing to his three previous outings over a shorter distance.
By now comfortable, Kinane had the horse in midfield going into the straight and sneaked through a gap. He showed one final, brilliant turn of foot to go clear and settle the race very quickly.
He beat Youmzain into second place who, at 20/1 and heartbreakingly for his connections, was finishing runner-up in the Arc for the third year running.
In winning this race, Sea The Stars became the only horse to ever win the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the same season.
Sea The Stars’ biggest wins:
|Date||Race||Won By (Runner-Up)||SP|
|28/09/08||Beresford Stakes, Curragh||½ length, Mourayan||7/4|
|02/05/09||2000 Guineas, Newmarket||1½ lengths, Delegator||8/1|
|06/06/09||The Derby, Epsom||1¾ lengths, Fame And Glory||11/4|
|04/07/09||Eclipse Stakes, Sandown||1 length, Rip Van Winkle||4/7|
|18/08/09||Juddmonte International, York||1 length, Mastercraftsman||1/4|
|05/09/09||Irish Champion Stakes, Leopardstown||2½ lengths, Fame And Glory||4/6|
|04/10/09||Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Longchamp||2 lengths, Youmzain||4/6|
The Beresford Stakes is a top Group 2 event for juveniles, all of Sea The Stars other races and wins were at Group 1 level.
Over the course of his career, Sea The Stars won £4,417,163. Up to the end of 2022, that was worth around £6.5 million.
Just over £70,000 of this was won during his juvenile campaign, the rest all being raked in during 2009 in what was an extraordinary campaign.
Sea The Stars was bred by Sunderland Holdings, and raced in the colours of its owner Christopher Tsui.
He was trained in Ireland by John Oxx, a top-class trainer over many years especially for leading owner the Aga Khan.
Mick Kinane, former number one to Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle, was on board for all nine of Sea The Stars’ races on the track.
Kinane was masterful on board, producing him at the right time and never winning by more than 2½ lengths for an average winning distance of less than 1¾ lengths.