Tag Archives: Sea The Stars

2018 ITM Stallion Trail – Photos & Report

4th October 2009. A day ingrained in memory. For ever. The day perfection in equine form became real. The day Sea The Stars wrote history.

I was still living in Germany. Following the 2009 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on my computer with the help of an almost colourless 240p internet stream. It didn’t matter. What mattered was the race. And the horse with the guy in the yellow silks riding.

It was my first full season following the sport of horse racing. Couldn’t have been a better year to get into it, right? Following Sea The Stars’ progress throughout the year, slowly but steadily understanding the historical importance of his achievements – what a wonderful, thrilling and emotional six months it were to witness. Horse racing at its best!

A Star Too Early

Sea The Stars came too early – or I came too late to party – I never saw him in flesh. It was only a couple of years later that I should eventually end up Ireland, though. I missed him by two years.

Ever since my love for the sport has grown into a passion that saw me creating this website and going racing near and far – from the Curragh in Kildare to Hanshin in Japan.

Still, there was the elusive dream: ever since this magical autumn day in 2009 all I wanted was to see the almighty Sea The Stars with my own eyes.

Trail of Greatness

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An elusive dream no longer. Thanks to the Irish Thoroughbred Trail! An initiative by the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM), running for a fourth consecutive  year now – though in earlier years I never made it for various reasons such as work- & travel commitments as well as a simple lack of awareness.

This time ITM made a huge effort to put the word out and make sure the message gets through to everyone: breeders and racing fans alike, come and join us for the Irish Thoroughbred Trail; 29 stud farms have taken part on Friday- and Saturday 12th/13th January 2018.

Such esteemed names as the famous Coolmore Stud, the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud, Shadwell’s Derrinstown Stud or Darley’s Kildangan Stud all opened their doors for visitors.

Come To See A Star 

Safe to say I didn’t let the chance slip this time. A moment of magic it was, indeed. Eye to eye with the champion. He musters you, a straight look into your eyes; I pick up the camera, holding the big lens right in front of his nose….

Ears pricked, relaxed, standing proud and tall surrounded by an aura of pure confidence. Sea The Stars knows. He’s got the awareness. He’s the king here and everywhere.

The now 12-year-old still looks the part. The most beautiful thoroughbred one can imagine. But it’s his aura that stands out for me – there’s something in the firm, clear, obvious, assured, yet gracious and elegant way Sea The Stars presents himself. I haven’t seen nor felt anything like it in the presence of any other horse.

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A Wonderful Experience

Gilltown Stud is doing a wonderful job. Friendly staff greeting you at every corner; handing out Sea The Stars gift bags for ever visitor; heated shelter and quality refreshments made available. Top class!

Half an hour further down the road is Darley’s Kildangan Stud. The second and final stop on my personal Stallion Trail. The weather turned grim by now. Wind and rain whipping in people’s faces. At the stud they do their upmost to make it the most enjoyable experience, regardless. I can only applaud the studs and their staff for putting in such tremendous effort.

13 stallions parade in front of eager eyes; young and old is here, braving the weather. Exceed And Excel still has the appearance of a racehorse. Beautifully defined muscles – you can see why he was such a top-class sprinter back in the day.

Ribchester has settled well in his new home it appears. He’s one of the more relaxed stallions. Takes it in his stride. The imposing Dawn Approach doesn’t cease to impress whenever I see him. Teofilo, Belardo…. it’s an esteemed list of superb racehorses enjoying their second career here at Kildangan Stud.

 

To open the doors, not only for breeders but also for racing fans, has to be applauded. The studs play the vital part here, without their welcoming openness the Irish Stallion Trail would not be a thing.

A Step In The Right Direction

At the same time only this welcoming openness – and I would add transparency which drives education on how the sport functions – has to be the way forward for horse racing.

Irish racing in the past has not only been accused but in fact has neglected the interest of the common racing fan. The most recent example was to continue having the major Group 1 meetings, like the Derby, at the Curragh during the time of its rebuild.

From my own experience, Irish Racing also tends to – or did so at least in the past years for as long as am going racing here (since 2011) – to cater for the casual once-a-year-event-goer rather than the racing fan who’s also there when they run a low-grade card a on a dreary January Sunday.

Thankfully this is changing. And it has to – if the sports wants more than pure survival but also wants to thrive. It is all well intended to try attract new groups of people for the sport. However, don’t forget your existing fanbase.

Initiatives like the Irish Thoroughbred Trail (or the equivalent Champion Trail during Irish Champions Weekend) provide a superb opportunity to do exactly that – exiting new potential race goers and at the same time offering value for existing racing fans alike.

Because think this way: how are you supposed to spark the interest of people who don’t know yet that they might develop an interest for the sport, if you fail to keep the fans you already have interested and excited?

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Embrace The Fans

Racing needs to embrace its fanbase. It’s their enthusiasm that fills racetracks with life on those low-key days that aren’t part of Festivals. And they do so because racing provides a unique experience that makes it so inherently different from most other sports.

Where else can you get so close to the stars, equine and human alike? Where else can fans become an actual part of the sport? Racing it is! You can’t have a chat with Jose Mourinho or pat Lionel Messi without being dragged away by some heavy security guard.

But you might be able to give Sea The Stars a pat on the head when you visit him at stud – or, as one of personal favourites – discussing with Tom Queally at Wolverhampton the Champion Stakes a day before the biggest ride of his career on Frankel.

That is what I love about horse racing. You are so close to the game – if you want. For some it is a mere betting medium with two handful of nags running around in circles. But for many others it’s so much more; passion – a sport that sets raw emotion free in us.

So, it was certainly great to see ITM making such a big effort with the Stallion Trail this year. There was a real buzz, certainly on social media – racing fans got the chance to meet their heroes but it as also a superb opportunity to engage new people and excite curiosity. This is the way to go. We need more of these initiatives that show horse racing in a different light apart from gambling and drunk ladies in short skirts.

Thank you ITM for making this possible. For giving me the chance to meet my all-time equine hero. I had some tears of joy in my eyes.

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Preview: ARC DE TRIOMPH 2017

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“You are prone to bad luck at Chantilly; often the best horse gets beaten there” – John Gosden

Correct. John Gosden, trainer of wonder filly Enable is rightly concerned if it comes to external influences in today’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The dual Oaks and King George champ is the red hot betting favourite for quite some time. Rightly so. There is little more she needs to do to prove her class. She IS all class.

However a long season, a big field of top class contenders, most of them the opposite sex, tough ground and a course that can throw up strange results – there is a lot to overcome today….

…. and a lot to like about Enable! 

On the positive side of things, Enable could have not get a better draw allotted in the lottery that can kill chances of any horse before the race is even run. She can start from stall 2 – it gives her flamboyant star jockey Frankie Dettori every chance to make a decision whereas other rivals have to take what’s left over.

Enable is an uncomplicated filly, she has no problem to race prominently. I’m sure Dettori will settle her close enough to the pace with every chance to get the clearest of runs. The track will be more of an issue for anyone behind her: no excuses.

So – put the mortgage on? 

If she is in the form she presented herself all year – yes, ’cause she’ll win. Plain and simple. Fillies and three year old fillies in particular have a superb record in the Arc.

But what if a season that started in a Conditions Stake at Newbury back in April has taken a toll? You couldn’t begrudge Enable to lose some percentage of her superb form that saw the three year old land spectacular victories throughout the summer.

Well – Autumn, soft ground and Chantilly can do strange things to horses. So at prices I have to take on Enable. As much as I would love the story of her winning the race, as much I feel ENABLEd to say: this is one too many for her this year.

Bigger odds, Bigger Value!

I like three individuals at much bigger odds: the German raider Dschingis Secret, the recent Leger hero Capri and the French Cloth Of Stars .

Why? The German horse has no issues on the soft ground and usually does his best at the back end of his races. The way he finds another gear in the closing stages, as seen in the Prix Foy and Großer Preis von Berlin, is a trait not too many horses posses.

The way he races does not look sexy. He can get sweaty, be a bit keen but also can appear to be off the bridle earlier than a high class individual should be. But that doesn’t matter. The apparent ease – once hitting top gear – he puts away classy contenders suggest that this lad is hitting top form when it matters most.

The draw isn’t ideal, ten is as wide as you want to be and he will need a bit of luck. But hey, this is horse racing. You’ll always need a bit of ” luck” on the big day. 16’s is a serious price for a serious horse.

But Capri? A Leger winner? Yep. The drop in trip won’t be an issue. He’s an Irish Derby winner with form over shorter too. He travells strongly through his races and simply has an exceptional attitude to keep on going, as seen at Doncaster a fortnight ago. Soft ground doesn’t bother him, in fact the true stamina test expected will rather suit him today.

He’s here’s soon enough with little time to recover plus faces the difficult task to break from stall 15. However that is reflected in the price, and I feel taken into account overly negative. Yes, he is not the likeliest winner of the race, but surely a dual Classic winner has a slightly better than 5% chance with conditions likely to suit him?!

It’s been eight years since Sea The Stars became a legend in this very race. His son Cloth Of Stars is one who has the tools to emulate his almighty daddy. He’s got a good draw, a fair prep run under the belt off a four months long break when runner-up in the Foy behind Dschingis Secret and was unbeaten in 2017 before that.

Stamina is a question mark. He is yet to win over 1m 4f. On the plus side he loves the ground and deserves another crack at this distance after only two tries and with some improvement still possible.

Anything else to say?

Don’t count out Ulysses, either. He will love the track, he’s been a revelation this season and acts on softish ground. That says ground and trip in combination should not play to his strengths, I feel.

There is loads of money coming for Order Of St. George. He’s a sexy contender, I admit. He looked SO good in the Irish Ledger. Ground and trip is fine. A stayer with a turn of foot, Arc 3rd twelve months ago. Yeah, he’s a serious chance, Ballydoyle’s best, no doubt.

I say that because it’s only the 1st October and Winter is not coming – not today. The superstar filly has done it all this season, but this is a step too far. Sure, as a daughter of Galileo all is seemingly possible – but a long year, tough ground, a trip as far as she’s never gone before – too much.

The point is….

….. this is a wide open Arc! Much more open than the betting suggests. We have a star filly in Enable who is likely to take plenty of beating if all goes right for her. But this is the Arc, it’s autumn, it’s Chantilly, it’s tough ground, it’s a high class field…. there is plenty of room for things to pan out in a completely different way. Let’s hope it goes my way.

Selections:
10pts win – Dschingis Secret @ 16/1 Bet365
10pts win – Capri @ 20/1 Bet365
5pts win – Cloth To Stars @ 28/1 Bet365

Hit It A Bomb Returns

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Finally we have the chance to see Hit It A Bomb hitting the race track as a three year old.! The most impressive winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – that’s now almost ten months ago – had plenty of problems early on this season and missed several assignments.

But Aiden O’Brien said the son of War Front is ready to go today to start of his campaign in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown.

Question mark are all over the place though: did he train on? Has he retained his brilliant turn of foot despite the long lay-off? Is he fit enough to beat a more or less competitive, albeit given his own potential class, rather ordinary looking bunch of mostly well seasoned horses?

Here’s hoping. Hit It A Bomb produced one of the most memorable performances of recent time when landing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – from the widest draw having to finish from an impossible position turning for home…. it was spectacular!

I suspect there is plenty enough left to work on for this very first step back into racing action today; as always with O’Brien horses, bigger targets loom large.

All I want to see today is him having trained on, finishing well, without getting a hard race. Victory is not necessarily the main objective here.

That obviously opens the door for someone else to step up and land a nice paycheck. Custom Cut, given he’s only 2lb rated below Hit It A Bomb, looks most likely do be the one benefiting from a potential lack of fitness of the favourite.

He hasn’t really show all that much this season though, certainly he’s not in the same form as all the years before, so whether he can still run to his current rating of 114 is questionable.

It’s not a betting race for me at all, but Jim Bolger can have horses ready after a break, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tribal Beat, last years second in the Killavullan Stakes, to run a big race here.

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Thursday Selections:

Two winners yesterday. Those were balsam for the ill-treated betting soul. Northern Thunder made most of a lack of pace in his race at Kempton and held on gamely, whereas it seemed the penny dropped for Sea The Stars son Space Mountain at Beverly.

1.50 Beverly: Street Jazz @ 11/1 Skybet
3.40 Salisbury: Bess of Hardwick @ 4/1 Ladbrokes

Lightly Raced Tamasha Can Improve Big Time

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5.10 Haydock: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 4f

Satellite wasn’t too far beaten in a very tough Handicap at York the last time. He didn’t have the run of the race and can come on for it. Back up in trip, down in grade and dropped 2 pounds he’s a key contender today. That says he’s to raise his game too, given that his only win was a maiden success over a year ago and since then he hasn’t finished in the money.

Revitalized Chancery goes back to 12f and has already shown some fine form this season. He needs to be back to his very best to win off his current mark and I’m not sure if he is really up to it these days. English Summer is on a workable mark without giving the impression to be overly well handicapped. Chance on best form, but not shown anything this year so far.

The race will inevitably evolve around lightly raced filly Tamasha. She was very impressive winning a maiden at Salisbury last year and was clearly not disgraced in a hot Listed event on the Lingfield All-Weather subsequently, when she got a troubled trip due to a wide draw.

As a daughter of Sea The Stars she is likely to improve as a three year old and out of a Group 3 winning Sadler’s Wells mare she is sure to relish middle-distance trips. Race fitness and quick ground are questions marks, but if she can overcome them she is entitled to run a big race of a mark which could easily underestimate her true potential. At 4/1 I’m rather on her than against her in this field.

Tamasha @ 4/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win