Sea The Stars - Perfection in Equine Form
Sea The Stars was an exceptional middle-distance horse and six-time Group 1 winner. He is the highest-rated middle-distance flat horse of all time, ranking 13th overall on Timeform’s ratings, and boasts an impressive eight wins from nine runs. Piloted by Mick Kinane on all occasions, he amassed a whopping £4,417,163 in earnings and was awarded his highest Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 138 upon winning the Irish Champion Stakes. He has become something of an exceptional sire too since being retired, producing a plethora of big names including champion stayer Stradivarius, and top-class miler Baaeed.
(All facts correct at the time of writing, 12/05/23)
Cape Cross: A top-class miler for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor, he won various Group 1 and 2 races in the late '90s. His notable victories include the Queen Anne Stakes, Celebration Mile, and Lockinge. He collected a cool £266,104 in earnings from 19 starts before being retired and becoming an impressive sire.
He has sired several top performers including Ouija Board, who collected £3,510,682 in earnings and achieved an OR of 121, and Golden Horn, a champion 3-year-old who won the Derby, Eclipse, Irish Champion Stakes, and Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe. Cape Cross has sired 31 horses who achieved over £250,000 in earnings each, and as of 2016, he had a stud fee of around £20,000. He passed away in 2017, aged 23.
Urban Sea: A Group 1 winner in France for her trainer Jean Lesbordes, Urban Sea accumulated £1,232,710 in earnings. She won several top-class races, including the 1993 Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe. She raced at the top level for three years before being retired as a broodmare in 1994, where she excelled.
Dam of few offspring but with some impressive stats, her progeny include Group 1 winners Black Sam Bellamy, trained by Aiden O'Brien in Ireland, and My Typhoon, trained by William Mott over in America, as well as the infamous Galileo. An impressive return from just nine offspring!
Green Desert: Going further back on Cape Cross’ side, you find the sire Green Desert. Best known as a top-class sprinter/miler, he also sired several impressive Group 1 winning horses in the late 90s/early 00s such as Oriental Express (£1,417,168 in earnings), Heat Haze (£743,102), Sheikh Albadou (£661,983), and White Heart (£592,458).
Miswaki: On Urban Sea's side, you find Miswaki, another sprinter who was a high-class 2-year-old. He sired some impressive middle-distance horses, of course including Urban Sea, but also Marvelous Crown (£1,023,498), Black Tie Affair (£963,730), and Misil (£744,236).
With a very impressive family tree and being a half-brother to Galileo, it was almost as if he was destined for greatness!
Sea The Stars’ record is phenomenal. Unbeaten as a 3-year-old, he won by a cumulative distance of 9.75 lengths over the six Group 1 races he contested. This includes beating the likes of the talented Rip Van Winkle, Fame And Glory, and Mastercraftsman. The ground wasn't an issue either, winning on anything from Soft/Heavy, to Good, to Yielding. His wins over 1m showcased the speed he possessed, whilst effortlessly transitioning to win over 1m4f, showing his true staying power. His big wins included the Guineas, Coral-Eclipse, and Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe, and he became the first to win the treble (Guineas, Derby, and Arc) since Nashwan back in 1989. Often undervalued as a racehorse, we didn't know what we had until he had gone, one whose reputation has taken time to mature.
Most Impressive Wins –
A reason many overlook Sea The Stars is that he didn't win any of his races by a large distance, nor did he toy with his opponents, but he was still mightily impressive in his own right.
Sea The Stars’ performance in the 2009 2000 Guineas was very impressive. Settled in mid-division, he enjoyed a steadily run race behind pacemakers. Approaching 2f out and still travelling well, Mick Kinane asked for more from his mount when moved to the outside, and he duly delivered. Eating up the ground approaching the final furlong, he gradually eased away from his rivals, eventually winning the race by some 1.5L. This might sound like a pretty average victory, but considering the strength of the field, which included the likes of Delegator, Rip Van Winkle, and Mastercraftsman, he made it look routine.
His performance in the 2009 Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe followed a similar pattern, in what would be his final visit to a racetrack. Restrained towards the rear, jockey Mick Kinane was looking to keep him in check for the first mile of the race, before unleashing him past tiring horses towards the end. Again, with 2f to go, Sea The Stars made eye-catching progress on the inner as the early pace-setters came back to the field. Still with 6-7 lengths to make up approaching the final furlong, it looked an impossible task, but with an impressive turn of foot, he quickened clear, winning one of the most prestigious flat races in emphatic fashion. Described simply as "perfection in equine form", Sea The Stars was one of the best.
To win such races and make it look so effortless is a testament to his pedigree and the brilliant training at home by John Oxx. Let's just say he didn't like to embarrass his opposition. He was the consummate gentleman, and he won politely!
Comments from notable people –
Ian Balding, trainer of Mill Reef (2009) – “He’s right up there with Sea-Bird, Ribot and Mill Reef. He’s a fabulous, fabulous racehorse in every way. I think Sea The Stars is the best of all.”
John Oxx during the 2009 season – "If you resurrected all the great horses from the past and put them standing up there in front of you, and walked them up and down and looked at them, and at their pedigrees, their performance, their race record, their temperament, their conformation and everything, you'd pick some holes in every horse. But you'd have difficulty picking a hole with this fellow. He's got the pedigree, the looks, that tremendous athletic frame, the temperament, and then the record. When you put it all together, no breeder could hope to breed a better horse 300 years down the line from the development of the thoroughbred. That's what he represents to me."
Mick Kinane reflecting on the Arc win in 2009 – "I remember when the gap appeared – that was the first time he needed an exceptional turn of foot. But he made up the seven lengths in no time and that just goes to show how good he was. It was an extraordinary day, and he had so much more energy left. He did everything so easily in his work and never disappointed us – he was better at home than he was on the racecourse too!"
John McCririck following his retirement in 2009 – “If he had stayed in training there could have been world tours. Horse Racing would have had its very own Usain Bolt.”
Christopher Tsui following his retirement in 2009 – “Each race has brought me joy and excitement beyond anything I could ever dream of. I am undoubtedly his biggest fan. He has proven himself to be a great champion.”
Willie Carson following his win in the Arc (2009) – “He’s got so much ability. We’ve seen one of the best horses ever!”
Current breeding info/record -
A champion on the track, and now a champion off of it, Sea The Stars has some very impressive stats as a sire. In 2022, he was 3rd on the list of leading sires in GB/IRE with £5,079,785 in prize money from 655 total runs, whilst also being 3rd in the entirety of Europe, beaten only by Frankel and Dubawi. His 2023 stud fee stands at EUR 180,000 and his offspring have already accumulated £525,487 in prize money in Europe this year. He’s had 116 runners overall which have produced 35 winners, 3 of which were black-type.
Sire to incredible Group-1 winning horses such as Stradivarius, Crystal Ocean, and Baaeed, it’s easy to see why he is so sought after in the breeding world. He’s sired 8 horses to achieve over £1 million in earnings and a whopping 44 to achieve an OR of 110+. His top progeny last year included the likes of Hukum (Coronation Cup), Sea La Rosa (Lillie Langtry Stakes + Prix de Royallieu), Deauville Legend (Great Voltigeur Stakes + 4th in Melbourne Cup), Emily Upjohn (British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes + 2nd in the Oaks), and Baaeed (Lockinge Stakes + Queen Anne Stakes + Sussex Stakes + International Stakes).
Since being sent to stud, Sea The Stars has sired 171 Flat Stakes Performers, with 63 Group winners and 42 other Stakes winners. So far in 2023, he has a winners-to-runners percentage of 30%.
Not the flashiest horse you will ever see, but bursting with class both on and off the track, Sea The Stars is up there with some of the all-time greats. With an almost perfect record whilst running in some of the most prestigious flat races in the world, his raw ability was second to none. His legacy is becoming more and more widely appreciated to this day, and despite not having the world-beating performances of the likes of Frankel, he went about his business with typically understated elegance. Already up there as one of the best flat horses/stallions, I’m sure it won’t be long until we see him sire another top-class middle-distance horse!