M J Kinane-worth remembering

Mick Kinane announced his retirement at the start of December. His decision to retire after his annus mirabilis with Sea the Stars is indicative of a jockey who had a perfect sense of timing. Many of the glowing tributes described him as the ‘best flat jockey that Ireland ever produced’. I’m not convinced he was demonstrably better than Pat Eddery, Kieran Fallon or Johnny Murtagh but he was certainly as good as any other Irish jockey.  In particular he was outstanding around Leopardstown and Ascot. I sometimes had reservations about his riding in France and the US, but it is a testament to his greatness that he tended to be judged against a benchmark of perfection.  Naturally over such a lengthy career he rode many future stallions (far too many to properly consider) but it is worth recalling some of the more notable names from such a storied career.

 The Liam Browne years

Initially Kinane rode for Michael  Kauntze and Liam Browne. The only star from that time was the cheaply bred and purchased Dara Monarch (1979 Realm x Sardara by Alcide)who won an Irish 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes for Liam Browne.  At stud his only offspring of significance was the Lockinge winner Broken Hearted.

The Dermot Weld Years 1983-1997

From there he moved across the Curragh to Rosewell House and Dermot Weld where he stayed from late 1983-1997. Although it was a successful partnership that led to a number of Irish championships, in terms of influential stallions it was disappointing. The most important was Theatrical (1982 Nureyev x Tree of Knowledge by Sassafras). but he achieved his major successes after leaving Ireland. Ironically Kinane chose not to ride Theatrical’s son Zagreb (1993 Theatrical x Sophonosibe by Wollow) for Weld in the 1996 Irish Derby favouring Michael Stoute’s Dr Massini who trailed in 7th.  Indeed the Irish Derby was an unlucky race for Kinane who was also touched off on Weld’s Definite Article (1992 Indian Ridge x Summer Fashion by Moorestyle) by Winged Love in 1995. Thus far Definite Article’s main achievement has been to sire the outstanding stayer Vinnie Roe who won an incredible 4 Irish St Legers.

Flash of Steel (1983 Kris x Spark of Fire by Run the Gauntlet) won the 1986 Irish Guineas for Weld and Kinane but like many sons of Kris was disappointing at stud.  Big Shuffle (1984 Super Concorde x Raise Your Skirts by Elevation) won a Cork and Orrery in 1987 and he is still a popular and successful stallion in Germany where he proved a reliable source of speed. In 1992 Brief Truce (1989 Irish River x Falafel by Northern Dancer) got a superb ride from Kinane to win a St James Palace at 25-1 defeating Rodrigo de Triano and Arazi ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hUplXewoDM ) but he was disappointing as a sire.   1990 saw Weld and Kinane secure an historic Belmont Victory with Go and Go (1987 Be my Guest x Irish Edition by Alleged) winning by 8 lengths. Again that son of Be My Guest made no impact as a sire. Twilight Agenda (1986 Devil’s Bag x Grenzen by Grenfall) was another Moyglare Stud horse who seemed to prosper once he was transferred to the US, but he also failed to make an impact at stud. Vintage Crop’s (1987 Rousillon x Overplay by Bustino) historic Melbourne Cup win is of no relevance as he was of course a gelding.  An interesting and unexpected successful stallion from that period was Unusual Heat (1990 Nureyev x Rossard by Glacial) who never won above listed class, finished last in the Irish 2000 Guineas but who has risen from obscurity to become an important sire in California.

Outside Rides

Mick acquired a reputation as the big race king or ‘super-sub’. He certainly compiled a very impressive record for outside stables. He rode Carroll House (1985 Lord Gayle x Tuna by Silver Shark) to win the 1989 Arc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lpiwr6H7134&feature=related and Phoenix Champion Stakes. Like so many horses at the time he was sold to Japan but was eventually returned to Ireland as a National Hunt stallion.  The next year he rode Tirol (1987 Thatching x Alpine Niece by Great Nephew) to win the 2000 Guineas for Richard Hannon. He retired to Coolmore alongside his sire where he did sire the occasional top horse such as Tarascon and Miss Tahiti, but he never threatened to be the saviour of the Forli line. Mick got to ride Commander in Chief (1990 Dancing Brave x Slightly Dangerous by Roberto) to Derby success when Pat Eddery wrongly chose Tenby. Commander in Chief was also sold  to Japan where he failed to make a significant impact.

Mick rode Belmez (1987 El Gran Senor x Grace Note by Top Ville) and King’s Theatre (1991 Sadler’s Wells x Regal Beauty by Princely Native) to win the King George for Henry Cecil. Belmez proved a very disappointing sire prior to his premature death. King’s Theatre is now marketed as a dual purpose sire and to be fair he is a very good jumps sire.

The Aidan O’Brien Years 1999-2003

The biggest and most pressurised job in Europe saw Kinane rise to the challenge admirably. The list of top class horses is very long and almost all of them got their chance at Coolmore. In terms of sires the outstanding name is Galileo the dual Derby winner from 2001 followed by Giant’s Causway who was a star of the 2000 season. 

Rock of Gibraltar (1999 Danehill x by Offshore Boom by Be My Guest) is proving an average sire given his opportunities, and Kinane wasn’t at his finest when riding him in the Breeders Cup Mile.  2002 saw Ballydoyle house the Rock, along with High Chaparral (1999 Sadler’s Wells x Kasora by Darshaan) and Hawk Wing (1999 Woodman x La Lorgnette by Val De L’Orne). Mick made a rare error of judgement in choosing to ride Hawk Wing over High Chapparal in the Derby that year. In terms of stud careers Hawk Wing has been a disaster and High Chapparal (who at one point looked destined for a career as a National Hunt sire), has staged a spirited revival and is compiling a creditable record here and in Australia.

Fasliyev (1997 Nureyev x Mr P’s Princess by Mr Prospector) was an unbeaten two year old in 1999 who had a sensational first crop but was unable to build on it.

Minardi (1998 Boundary x Yarn by Mr Prospector) was another good two year old but a disappointing sire.   Johannesburg (1999 Hennessy x Myth by Ogygian) was a remarkable two year old in 2001 and his success in the Breeders Cup Juvenile was a breakthrough dirt success for Ballydoyle. As a sire he made a lot of money for Ashford Stud before his recent move to Japan, but to my mind he was overpriced and the occasional top horse hid a lot of dross.

Mozart (1998 Danehill x Victoria Cross by Spectacular Bid) was an outstanding sprinter and on the evidence of his sole crop that featured Dandy Man and Amadeus Wolf his premature death was unfortunate for Coolmore.

Stravinsky (1996 Nureyev x Fire the Groom by Blushing Groom) was another oustanding sprinter and although eventually sold by Coolmore to Japan he left behind a creditable record here and in the Southern hemisphere.

The John Oxx years 2004-2009

Only two horses are likely to have an impact as stallions, obviously Sea The Stars has everything going for him and its easy to forget that Azamour ( 2001 Night Shift x Asmara by Lear Fan) was also a Group 1 winner over a mile, 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs. There were some promising individuals amongst Azamour’s first crop of two year olds and his progeny are likely to progress.

Five best stallions ridden by Kinane

1. Montjeu (1996 Sadler’s Wells x Floripedes by Top Ville)

Already a dual Derby winner by the time Kinane took over the ride. Kinane rode him to 4 Group 1 wins. The most impressive was his imperious victory in the King George. He bacame Mick’s second Arc winner but in my opinion it wasn’t Mick’s best ride as he was in a pocket and on testing ground Montjeu did very well to make up the ground on the heroic El Condor Pasa. Happily Mick subsequently earned the distinction of being co-breeder of Montjeu’s Derby winning son Authorized.

2. Galileo (1998 Sadler’s Wells x Urban Sea by Miswaki).

Mick rode him in 7 of his 8 races comfortably winning the Derby, Irish Derby and King George on him. There was some criticism of his ride in the Irish Champion Stakes when Godolphin and Fantastic Light defeated him by a head. His career finished disappointingly in the Breeders Cup when Ballydoyle seemed to ignore the stats involving the offspring of Sadler’s Wells running on the dirt.

3. Monsun (1990 Konigsstuhl x Mosella by Surumu)

Mick only rode him once but it was Group 1 win in the 1993 Aral Pokal. Ironically the second horse George Augustus was trained by his subsequent employer John Oxx and the third home shrewd idea was trained by one of his first bosses Michael Kauntze. I doubt if anyone present that day realised that they were viewing a horse destined to become the greatest sire Germany has produced.

4. Giant’s Causeway (1997 Storm Cat  x Mariah’s Storm by Rahy).

Mick rode him in 12 of his 13 starts winning 5 group 1’s on the ‘Iron Horse’ (George Duffield rode him in the Eclipse).  Many of these successes were hard fought and it is worth rewatching his ride in the Juddmonte International ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDPyQA-WWGo ) . Less pleasant viewing for Mick would be his ride in the Irish Guineas where Bachir stole a march on him and some would argue that dropping his whip near the finish of the Breeder’s Cup Classic affected the result (Tiznow won by a neck). Although Giant’s Causeway can sometimes divide opinions amongst breeders, he keeps churning out stakes horses and he is always capable of producing a top notcher particularly on turf or synthetics.

5. Theatrical (1982 Nureyev x Tree of Knowledge by Sassafras).

Mick was jocked off Theatrical to allow Lester Pigott the ride at Epsom. Back in Ireland Mick had won a  Derby Trial on Theatrical and rode a good race when second to Law Society in the 1985 Irish Derby. Theatrical subsequently improved slightly when transferred to Bill Mott.  Theatrical became a fine stallion who was somewhat underrated and at stud on the wrong continent.

Five most disappointing stallions ridden by Kinane (relative to opportunities).

1. Hawk Wing (1999 Woodman x La Lorgnette by Val De L’Orne)

The horse who seemed to have everything, brilliant speed and enough stamina to finish second in a good Derby.  Mick rode him to win Group 1’s at 2 (National Stakes), 3 (a soft Eclipse) and 4 (the Lockinge). His performance in the Lockinge had Timeform struggling to find a better performance in recent decades http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiXbsSCdGLs . Hawk Wing would have won a 2000 Guineas if Mick Kinane had ridden him but he was suspended at the time and regardless he might have chosen to ride Johannesburg in the Kentucky Derby that same day. In a prelude of things to come as far as Ballydoyle were concerned Jamie Spencer took over and got the horse beaten whilst in a further portent Johnny Murtagh did a fine job on Rock of Gibraltar. A terrible stallion (like most sons of Woodman) and now banished to Korea.

2. Entrepreneur (1994 Sadler’s Wells x Exclusive Order by Exclusive Native)

A Guineas winner who retired to Coolmore. He did sire Vintage Tipple who won an Irish Oaks but the fact that he is now in Russia says it all.

3. King of Kings (1995 Sadler’s Wells x Zummerudd by Habitat).  Another Guineas winner by Sadler’s Wells who retired to Coolmore. Did ok in his Southern Hemisphere stint but now in Switzerland.

4. One Cool Cat (2001 Storm Cat x Tacha by Mr Prospector).

Mick rode him to win the National Stakes and Phoenix Stakes at two during his last season at Ballydoyle. His oldest progeny are still not even four and he has had a lot of two year old winners in the last season so it might seem very unreasonable to make a decision on him as yet, but he has been very disappointing with nothing of note to date.

5. Fasliyev (1997 Nureyev x Mr P’s Princess by Mr Prospector).

Mick rode him to win the Phoenix Stakes and Prix Morny as part of an unbeaten juvenile campaign. He is on this list because he misled a lot of people (including me) into thinking that he was about to become a major force in Europe after a scintillating first crop of two year olds. His stud fee rocketed but everything since then was a disappointment and he is now in Japan.


In a career of such longevity and such success it is only possible for me to provide a very potted history. The story will still need to be updated as Mick rode plenty of stallions about whom we will have to wait to make a full assessment. However at the end of his riding career we can safely state that Mick was a truly great jockey and I suspect that Mick is one of those people that sometimes aren’t fully appreciated until they are gone (that was certainly the case in Ballydoyle when they replaced him with Jamie Spencer 🙂

10 days that changed the world (of bloodstock)

The last 2 weeks have seen huge amounts of top level action in the UK, Ireland and France. It would be easy to simply write about one top level winner but I aim to please so here are ten items of interest from the past two weeks…….

1.Sea the Stars- His greatness is unquestioned, but is he the greatest ever?

The answer is no. Sea the Stars is undoubtedly a fantastic horse whose consistency and versatility has to admired but some of the praise has been vastly overdone. I believe that I have seen better individual performances over a mile, 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs. It is interesting to compare his level of form with that of last year’s winner Zarkava. She also won an Arc by two lengths beating Youmzain, over a mile she trounced Goldikova in the French Guineas and she was both a Group 1 winner at two and unbeaten throughout her career. However would anyone seriously suggest that she might be the greatest horse of all time,as has been mentioned in the case of Sea the Stars?

2. Mighty Mighty Montjeu.

We have learned that when Montjeu sires a good two year old, that horse becomes a top class three year old. Thus far his only Group One winning two year olds have all become Derby winners namely Authorized, Motivator and Fame and Glory. For good measure Jukebox Jury who won last years Royal Lodge has now become a Group 1 winner after narrowly triumphing in the Preis Von Europa.  On Saturday 26th September at Ascot in the Royal Lodge Joshua Tree won well. The next day in the Curragh’s Beresford Stakes,St Nicholas Abbey was even more impressive and become ante post favourite for next year’s Derby. For good measure Bikini Babe was runner up in the CL Weld Stakes.  As if to remind everyone that he still sires the odd decent older horse he had an Australian Group 1 winner Speed Gifted to complement Jukebox Jury’s success at the highest level. With Fame & Glory likely to stay in training it would be no surprise if he is champion sire in 2010.

3. John Oxx- You can’t get away from his influence!

Back in 2000 Sinndar gave John Oxx the best day he could ever have hoped for when winning the Arc on the same day as Namid won the Prix de’lAbbaye. In 2009 apart from Sea the Stars he won the Prix de Cadran with Alandi who spoilt Yeats farewell to racing. This was Alandi’s second major victory in three weeks following on from his Irish St Leger victory. The weekend also gave plenty of reminders of that memorable day in 2000 as Namid sired Total Victory who followed his sire in triumphing in the Abbaye and Sinndar was responsible for Youmzain who again had to settle for the runner-up spot for the 3rd successive Arc. For good measure Sinndar sired Rosanara who was quite impressive in retaining her unbeaten record in the Prix Marcel Boussac. I wrote in one of my first posts that Sinndar was badly overlooked by Irish breeders. He is now resident in France where I hope he gets the big books that he deserves as he is more than capable of siring a top horse. Total Gallery became Namid’s first Group 1 winner but he has probably arrived too late to make much of a difference to Namid’s reputation and his lack of major success saw the median for his yearlings slip to €5600 in 2008.

4.The Aga Khan- as good as it gets.

The Aga Khan had an incredible weekend. Group 1 successes for Shalanaya, Alandi, Siyouni, Rosanara, Varenar represent an incredible return and a vindication of his breeding policy.The sires involved Lomitas,Galileo, Pivotal, Sinndar and Rock of Gibraltar, are a decidedly mixed bunch but such success highlights the strength of his female lines.His non-conformist approach to stallion selection often sees him responsible for breeding the best offspring of many overlooked stallions. For good measure Daryakana (by Selkirk) and Manighar (by Linamix) picked up Group 2 races. Looking at some of the pedigrees involved familiar names quickly appear. The third dam of Shalanaya is Sharmeen the dam of Shergar, the dam of Alandi is a full sister to Oaks winner Aliysa, the grand-dam of Siyouni is Slipstream Queen who was dam of Slickly and was presumably purchased as part of the Lagardere purchase so it is fitting that he won the race commemorating Jean Luc Lagardere. Rosanara is out of a Linamix mare so again it can be taken that she was part of the Lagardere acquisition. Varenar is a half brother to Visindar who started favourite for the 2006 Derby on the back of an impressive win in the Prix Greffulhe and Daryakana is out Daryaba who won the French Oaks and Prix Vermeille in 1999.

5. Pivotal- another gap on the cv filled

I am a huge admirer of Pivotal and it is interesting to monitor the impact of the better mares on his results. The Prix Jean-Luc de Lagedare say a first and third for Cheveley Parks finest, comprising Siyouni and Buzzword. Interestingly both are our of Danehill mares and this is a cross that has been tried repeatedly since the success of Saoire in the Irish Guineas. Kitty Kiernan is another representative of this cross. Surprisingly it was the first time that Pivotal had sired a Group 1 winning two year old although he did have Group 2 winners previously in Captain Rio and Excellent Art.

6. Sahm- a loss

Sahm was impeccably bred being by Mr Prospector out of Salsabail. However I always felt he was at stud on the wrong continent. He has had relatively few runners in Europe and most of them were with Kevin Prendergast, who never seemed to train a bad one eg Mustameet, Adaala, Red Moloney. He also sired Maram who won last years Breeders Cup Fillies Turf.  Now he has had a Group 1 winner in surprise Sun Chariot winner Sahpreasa. Sahm died in 2007 aged only 13 and before he really got to capitalise on his better than expected results.

7. Sales races- distorting the truth

There were a number of sales races over the past 8 days with the Tattersalls races at Newmarket and the Goffs races at the Curragh.  Amazingly for the second year running Hawk Wing sired the winner of one of these sales races (Lucky General) to put him near the top of the two year old rankings again. This is a travesty of justice if it means that someone in the distant future comes to the conclusion that it was a mistake to banish this great racehorse but dreadful sire to Korea. Shamardal sired another Shakespearen the winner of the Goffs Million Mile and along with Arctic who was somewhat disappointing in the Middle Park he ensures that Shamardal will feature near the top of the first season sires listing. At Newmarket in the Tattersalls races Danehill Dancer sired Lilly Langtry the winner of the fillies races which means that he will now win the Anglo-Irish championship at the expense of Cape Cross. 

8. Middle Park in decline

THe Middle Park stakes has been in decline for a long period. In the past twenty years only Oasis Dream and Rodrigo de Triano have gone on to Group 1 success as three year olds. This years field was small but select with all the runners having shown a high level of form. In winning Azwaan retained his unbeaten record but he wasn’t overly impressive. Alhaarth throws all sorts and this year he was very unlucky that Mourayan didn’t win thus years St Leger as he got no sort of run. In the past Alhaarth has shown his versatility by siring sprinters (Dominica), milers (Haafhd) and middle distance horses (Bandari).  Accordingly it is hard to say how far Azwaan will stay but it will be a surprise if he wins next years 2000 Guineas.

9. Special Duty- omens are good

Special Duty showed a very impressive turn of foot to win the Cheveley Park. She has already been highly tried taking on colts when beating Siyouni in the Prix Robert Papin and finishing second to Arcano in the Prix Morny. She is from a top class family as her dam is a full sister to Sightseek who won 7 Grade 1’s for Juddmonte. Her sire Hennessy died in 2007 whilst on duty in South America and he is one of those sires that seemed to be around forever yet he was only 14 when he died. In Europe he is known solely for outstanding two year old Johannesburg and it is to be hoped that Special Duty trains on a little better than he did. She will most likely be targetted at the 1000 Guineas and she seems to have a good chance of giving Criquette Head her fourth success in that classic.

10. Singspiel – A value sire

I think that Hibaayeb was fortunate not to be disqualified after winning the Fillies Mile. She clearly impeded Lady Darshaan who is incidentally a half sister to Prix de l’Abbaye winner Total Gallery. However she kept the race and thereby became the 12th Group 1 winner for Singspiel and his third this year after Eastern Anthem and Dar Re Mei. Singspiel saw a significant reduction in his stud fee some years ago and he is value at £15000. Hibaayeb’s fourth dam is Oh So Fair who achieved fame as the dam of Oh So Sharp.



Horse age sex




Race and distance


Dam (broodmare sire)


04/10/09 Total Gallery 3 c Namid Prix de l’Abbaye Gr 1 (5f) Diary (GreenDesert)
04/10/09 Sea the Stars 3 c Cape Cross Prix de l’Arc Gr 1 (12f) Urban Sea (Miswaki)
04/10/09 Shalanaya 3 f Lomitas Prix de l’Opera Gr 1 (10f) Shalamantika (Nashwan)
04/10/09 Alandi 4 c Galileo Prix de Cadran Gr 1 (20f) Aliya (Darshaan)
04/10/09 Siyouni 2 c Pivotal Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (7f) Sichilla (Danehill)
04/10/09 Rosanara 2 f Sinndar Prix Marcel Boussac Gr1 (8f) Rosawa (Linamix)
04/10/10 Varenar 3 c Rock of Gibraltar Prix de la Foret Gr 1 (10f) Visor (Mr Prospector)
03/10/09 Sahpresa 4 f Sahm Sun Chariot Gr 1 (8f) Sorpresa (Pleasant Tap)
03/10/09 Speed Gifted 5 g Montjeu The Metropolitan Gr 1 (12f) Good Standing (Distant View)
02/10/09 Special Duty 2 f Hennessy Cheveley Park Gr 1(6f) Quest to Peak (Distant View)
02/10/09 Awzaan 2 c Alhaarth Middle Park Gr 1 (6f) Nufoos (Zafonic)
27/09/09 St Nicholas Abbey 2 c Montjeu Beresford Stakes Gr 2 (8f) Leaping Water (Sure Blade)


Jukebox Jury 3 c Montjeu Preis Von Europa Gr 1 (12f) Mare Aux Fees (Kenmare)
26/09/09 Hibaayeb 2 f Singspiel Fillies Mile Gr 1 (8f) Lady Zonda (Lion Cavern)
26/09/09 Rip Van Winkle 3c Galileo QEII Gr 1 (8f) Looking Back (Stravinsky)
26/09/09 Joshua Tree 2 c Montjeu Royal Lodge Gr 2 (8f) Madeira Mist (Grand Lodge)

Who said it’s difficult to breed a classic winner?

It used to be said that the fittest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest horse wins the Derby and the best horse wins the St Leger. Whatever about being the fittest, Sea the Stars was the best bred horse in the Guineas field coming from a truly outstanding female line that produce top racehorses with remarkable regularity.  This was not rags to riches but untold riches to further riches.

Sea the Stars is the remarkable fourth Group 1 winner produced by surprise Prix de l’Arc winner Urban Sea. At the time of her conception she would have been described as having an unremarkable pedigree but all has changed utterly in the past two decades. Her dam Allegretta was a German bred who finished second in the Group 3 Lingfield Oaks Trial. Allegretta comes from an unfamiliar background being by Lombard who won a German 2000 Guineas and German St Leger among 20 races over five seasons.  Allegretta’s brother Anno ended up being rated champion three year old in Germany in 1982, winning the German St Leger but in recent years the success has moved to a different level.

Allegretta must be almost unique as being the dam and granddam of a 2000 Guineas winner for she was the dam of King’s Best who comprehensively defeated Giant’s Causeway in the 2000 Guineas of the year 2000.  Her Prix Flore winning Riverman daughter Allez Les Trois became the dam of Anabaa Blue who won the 2001 Prix de Jockey Club (back in the good old days when it was over 12 furlongs). Allez les Trois is also granddam of Tamayuz who was an outstanding miler last year winning the Prix Jean Prat and Jacque le Marois and is now at stud in Derrinstown. Allegretta is also grandam of Anzillero (by Law Society) who was a 12 furlong Group 1 winner at Dusseldorf in 2001.  Urban Sea was similar to Kings Best in producing one outstanding performance (in her case the Arc, in his the Guineas) but at stud she has been remarkably consistent.

Her first foal was the lazily named Urban Ocean who won the Gallinule Stakes for Aidan O’Brien. He subsequently lost his form but he is now operating as a National Hunt stallion.

Her next mate was the newly retired Lammtarra, who had just completed a scintillating career winning a Derby, King George and Prix de l’Arc. The filly called Melikah was unraced at two and her entire career encompassed only 4 races. She won the Pretty Polly stakes before finishing third in the Oaks to Love Divine and then second in the Irish Oaks. At stud she is the dam of 2 winners including Valedictory (by Dubai Destination) who was very impressive in winning his sole start last year at Saint Cloud and who could yet add further lustre to the family.

Urban Sea then made four consecutive visits to Sadler’s Wells. The results were outstanding, headlined by the outstanding Derby winner and now outstanding sire Galileo. His younger sibling Black Sam Bellamy was Group one placed at two, won the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club at three at looked a star in the making when winning the Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup at 4. He then ran well in the Coronation Cup but failed to shine in his subsequent outings. He retired to stud in Germany and although there was some promise in initial results he was brought back to Shade Oak Stud in the UK where he will fulfill a dual purpose role. The third foal Atticus was unraced but the next foal All Too Beautiful won her first two races before finishing runner-up to Ouija Board in the 2004 Oaks.  In one of those neat twists of fate it was that winning performance of Ouija Board that was almost certainly the inspiration for the mating with Cape Cross. Ouija Board added an Irish Oaks and a Breeders Cup Fillies and Mare Turf to her haul that year and although there were other stakes winners from that first crop, it was Ouija Board who propelled Cape Cross to the top table.

Urban Sea was then sent to another hot freshman sire in Giant’s Causeway. Their filly foal My Typhoon was sold for a record 1.8 million guineas and although she was never going to earn that amount on the track she managed 4 stakes wins including a Grade 1 as a five year old.

Urban Sea paid two visits to Cape Cross’s sire Green Desert with slightly disappointing results.  Her 2004 filly Cherry Hinton retired a maiden but she did finish second in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes and ran a creditable fifth to Light Shift in the Oaks. Still at least she made the track unlike Sea’s Legacy who was unraced for John Oxx. Sea’s Legacy was sold for 10,000 Guineas at last years Tattersalls October Sales. It would be no surprise to see him appear as a stallion somewhere in the near future.

That leads us to Sea the Stars. As already mentioned he is a product of the better mares received by Cape Cross post Ouija Board. Cape Cross has lacked a follow up superstar in Europe but did enough with decent performers such as Rising Cross, Sabina Perdida, Halicarnassus and others to remind us that he was a more than capable sire. Many of his progeny stay better than he did and they generally prefer good or better ground. His record will improve as the offspring of the better mares he received over the last few years come on stream. Although Cape Cross was a miler the aformentioned Ouija Board (broodmare sire Welsh Pageant) won an Oaks and Rising Cross (broodmare sire Nomination) was placed in an Oaks. These give hope that Sea the Stars can follow his many siblings who all stayed middle distances well. He is around 4-1 for Epsom which is a fair price as he showed such class at Newmarket that if he stays he wins. The Guineas Derby double has not been done since Nashwan in 1989 but Galileo’s son New Approach came within a nostril of achieving it last year.


Normally we tend to focus on the stallion and assume that he is at least 50% responsible for the ability of the offspring.  However in the case of Sea the Stars and with no disrespect to Cape Cross (whom I like as a stallion) this success was all about the dam.  Looking at this female line it makes you question how much we really know about genetics and how many of our assumptions are incorrect. Urban Sea has produced top performers to a variety of stallions even as she aged. Her dam Allegretta has seem her influence on the stud book grow dramatically and even her grandson Anzillero (who is by Law Society out of a Plugged Nickel mare) has rightfully earned his place at stud.   We might have to wait a few years for science to unravel some of the mysteries of hereditary but it only took 24 hours for another reminder of the power of certain female families. The  1000 Guineas was won by Ghanaati a descendant of Highclere and as remarkable a producer as Allegretta, of which more anon.


Urban Sea’s Foals of Racing Age

Name Foaled sex Sire Best Result
Urban Ocean 1996 c Bering Gr3 winner (Gallinule Stakes)
Melikah 1997 f Lammtarra 2nd Irish Oaks, 3rd Oaks
Galileo 1998 c Sadler’s Wells Grp 1 winner Derby,Irish Derby, King George
Black Sam Bellamy 1999 c Sadler’s Wells grp 1 winner*2 incl Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup
Atticus 2000 c Sadler’s Wells unraced
All too Beautiful 2001 f Sadler’s Wells 2nd Oaks
My Typhoon 2002 f Giants Causeway Grade 1 winner
Cherry Hinton 2004 f Green Desert 5th Oaks, 2nd Gr 3
Sea’s Legacy 2005 c Green Desert unraced
Sea the Stars 2006 c Cape Cross 2000 Guineas winner


SEA THE STARS (IRE) 2006 c b

Cross (IRE) 1994
Desert (USA) 1983
(USA) 1977
Dancer (CAN) 1961
De Nom (USA) 1968
Courier (USA) 1979
Ivor (USA) 1965
Dee (USA) 1968
Appeal (IRE) 1982
(GB) 1975
(IRE) 1965
Nichols (GB) 1966
(IRE) 1973
(IRE) 1966
(GB) 1968
Sea (USA) 1989
(USA) 1978
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1971
(USA) 1963
Bower (USA) 1958
(GB) 1978
(GER) 1967
(GER) 1955
Lady (GB) 1961
(GER) 1969
(USA) 1958
(GER) 1962