Sea The Stars confirmed his class by turning in a dominating performance in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown Sept. 5.
Given only a 50-50 chance mid-week of competing due to all the rain that had been received, Sea The Stars was declared an official runner by trainer John Oxx after he found the Leopardstown course was still in great shape on the evening before the race.
Ridden confidently by regular partner Mick Kinane, the brilliant Sea The Stars shrugged off the challenges of both Fame And Glory and Mastercraftsman, drawing off in the final furlong to win impressively by 2 1/2 lengths.
Fame And Glory, making his first start since capturing the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) in June, held on for second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of his Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate Mastercraftsman. Final time for the 10-furlong contest was 2:03.90 over a course listed as "good to yielding."
The victory in the Irish Champion guarantees Sea The Stars a spot in the starting gate for the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), since it is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” challenge. Plans for the son of Cape Cross are very much up in the air, with the connections taking it race by race.
Although Oxx has not ruled out a trip to Santa Anita, he is presently not looking at targets past the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) at Longchamp in October.
“The horse will decide rather than the owner or trainer where we go and the Arc is the next race coming up,” Oxx told reporters after the Irish Champion. “He’s had a run every month since May, so that’s five group I’s in as many months, and we will take it one race at a time.”
“There is the Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket after the Arc but, and I’m even boring myself by saying it, we will just have to see what the ground is like before each race.”
Oxx continued, “Then of course there is Santa Anita, but Nov. 7 is still a long way away. It’s a hell of an ask to keep going that long for a horse that had a Guineas preparation in May and I’d think it would be the Classic rather than the Turf that we would think about -- but it’s such a long way off that we’re not talking about it now.”
Kinane, asked by a reporter when he became aware of Sea The Stars’ potential, replied, “The very first morning I rode him I said to John we've got something special. He's phenomenal, how easy he can travel no matter what pace they're going; he's never in trouble.”
He added, “I haven't ridden a horse that can do what he can do at any distance -- he's top of the tree.”
Sea The Stars now has won five straight group I races, and has improved his overall record to seven victories from eight starts.
Sea The Stars was bred in Ireland by Sunderland Holdings, and is owned by 27-year-old Christopher Tsui, a nightclub owner from Hong Kong. Christopher’s father, David, campaigned Sea The Stars’ dam, Urban Sea, throughout her career.
The daughter of Miswaki was not only a multiple group I winner on the racecourse, but also was a tremendous broodmare, producing group I/grade I winners Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy, and My Typhoon, in addition to the Irish Champion winner.