Sea The Moon ahead of schedule in his mission to achieve stallion stardom
Martin Stevens speaks to Kirsten Rausing about her in-form freshman sire
Being a German Derby hero by Sea The Stars, with Monsun as damsire to boot, Sea The Moon was unburdened by any weight of expectation for his first juvenile runners this year. A smattering of winners who showed promise for their Classic season would surely have sufficed.
As it happens, early evidence suggests that Sea The Moon is a far more effective source of talented two-year-olds than we might have reasonably predicted.
The Lanwades Stud resident was represented by his first winner when the Iain Jardine-trained colt Must See The Doc shed his maiden tag on his second start in a 6½f Doncaster novice stakes on June 2 – at the expense of Fox Champion, a son of two-year-old sire extraordinaire Kodiac, no less.
Since then another eight winners for Sea The Moon have followed, including Lanwades’ homebred filly Albanita, who scored convincingly for Sir Mark Prescott over a mile at Chelmsford last month, and Three Comets, bred by the sire’s owner-breeder Gestut Gorlsdorf and sold to Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum for 525,000gns at Book 1 last year. The Roger Varian-trained colt looked worthy of his Royal Lodge Stakes and Derby entries when putting two and a half lengths between himself and his nearest rival over 1m½f at Hamilton last Friday.
Another Gorlsdorf-bred colt, Quest The Moon, showcased Sea The Moon by becoming his first stakes winner with success in Group 3 company over seven furlongs at Baden-Baden on Sunday. Paternal half-brother Man On The Moon, yet another bred by Gorlsdorf and a dual winner in Germany, started favourite for that race and was not disgraced in sixth.
The latest winner for Sea The Moon is perhaps his most striking yet: the filly Nouvelle Lune – bred by, yes, Gorlsdorf and a €180,000 BBAG yearling purchase on behalf of Norway's champion trainer Wido Neuroth – stormed to a 12-length victory on debut at Ovrevoll on Thursday. Plans now call for her to return to Germany for a crack at a big race there.
What is all the more remarkable about Sea The Moon's fast start is that it was not engineered.
Often, stallions with stamina credentials are granted access to sharper, speedier mares in an effort to give them more early winners to satisfy an impatient industry. But not in this case.
“Funnily enough I think it can fairly be said that Sea The Moon seems to have injected quite a bit of speed into his mares,” says Lanwades Stud owner Kirsten Rausing.
“Bear in mind that nearly 40 per cent of his first book of mares were generally stoutly bred German mares, and that some of those have already produced two-year-old winners by him, as has my own mare Alba Stella [the dam of Albanita], who was a winner over 12 furlongs and is a daughter of Nashwan and a Darshaan mare.
“For this reason I would not be at all hesitant to breed a reasonably stoutly bred mare to him. In fact I don’t think – from memory – that he has covered many short-distance mares at all, so far.”
Rausing also points out that Sea The Moon has notched his impressive tally of winners in spite of an especially dry summer and firmer ground that would have been more advantageous to progeny of stallions for whom speed is of the essence.
“We are of course delighted that Sea The Moon has already sired nine individual two-year-old winners in his first crop, including that Group 3 winner,” she says. “He is well on his way to emulating his own sire Sea The Stars, who had 12 first-crop winners including one Group 3 winner by the end of his debut season.
“But one cannot help but wonder whether Sea The Moon might have had even more individual winners by now if we had had a summer of normal rainfall with less firm ground prevailing. It is at least food for thought.”
Rausing has given Sea The Moon strong support by sending him some of her best mares such as the aforementioned Alba Stella, a multiple winning half-sister to champions Alborada and Albanova.
“Albanita is home on holiday now,” she reports. “We think she’ll make a fairly serious three-year-old next year.
“Obviously there are still quite a few interesting as-yet unraced Sea The Moon two-year-olds waiting in the wings, both here in Britain as well as in other parts of Europe.
"From a Lanwades aspect, we're particularly looking forward to the approaching debuts of Alignak, a colt out of Albanova with Sir Michael Stoute, and Strindberg, a colt out of Summer Night [the winning dam of stakes scorers Songerie, Souvenance, Soft Morning and Sourire] with Marcus Tregoning.
"But there are certainly many others of interest, too.”
And what are Rausing's observations of Sea The Moon's stock, having seen more by the sire than most?
“He certainly does seem to stamp his stock,” she says. “They are all good sized, well balanced and correct, with good bone, and most of them are noticeably good walkers.
“They seem to have a good, calm and co-operative temperament. Not that it’s important, but the vast majority seem to have few or no white markings, like their sire and grandsire.”
The continuing brilliance of Sea The Stars as a stallion – and a vintage year in which he has fielded the brilliant filly Sea Of Class and superstar stayer Stradivarius – has done Sea The Moon's profile no harm either.
Particularly satisfying, from Lanwades' point of view, is that Sea Of Class is out of a mare by the stud's late linchpin sire Hernando. So too is Sea The Moon's first winner Must See The Doc, as well as the sire's son Summer Moon, who has finished placed on both his starts for Mark Johnston. Breeders have taken the hint.
“Yes, I think some breeders have noted this, as we are already getting interest for the 2019 season from owners of Hernando mares,” Rausing remarks. “Luckily, Lanwades has quite a few of them, too!”
So much to write about Sea The Moon, and yet the leaves on the trees are barely turning brown and swallows are only just gathering for their annual migration. It looks as though by the end of the autumn – when a horse who made a winning debut on September 22 can be expected to bear most fruit – he will have a more plentiful harvest of winners for the season than was dared to hope for.
Sea The Moon serves as a salutary reminder that for all breeders tie themselves in knots worrying about precocity, and arbitrarily deem certain race distances to be more fashionable than others, it is the ability to transmit that ineffable quality of class that matters most.
The initial racecourse clues are pointing towards this 11-length Classic winner by a wonderful world champion in Sea The Stars certainly – and, come to think of it, unsurprisingly – having that ability.
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