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'Sea The Stars never disappointed us from the very first half-speed he ever did'

Mark Boylan speaks to Oxx and Kinane ten years on from Sea The Stars' debut

John Oxx with Mick Kinane (right) and Sea The Stars, who won six successive Group 1s in 2009
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At the time it might not have seemed the start champions are made of but those closest to the spectacular Sea The Stars still believed they had something special on their hands despite a defeat on his debut at the Curragh ten years ago today.

The half-brother to Galileo set the 2009 Flat season alight with a series of outstanding displays during his three-year-old campaign but there were no fireworks on his two-year-old introduction.

Instead, he finished a one-length fourth to Kevin Prendergast's Driving Snow and the Ballydoyle pair of Black Bear Island and Straight Forward – three horses who turned out to be the only individuals to ever get the better of John Oxx's wonderhorse in a nine-race career which lasted just over 14 months but in which he won six Group 1s in succession.

On Thursday, John Oxx, who handled the son of Cape Cross throughout his career, reflected on the now successful stallion a decade after his debut run and has fond memories of Christopher Tsui's superstar in his early days.

Sea The Stars powering away from his rivals in the 2009 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
"He was always the standout, from day one there was no question about that" said Oxx. "As a yearling he had the looks and his behaviour, attitude and constitution were all exceptional."

The Currabeg handler added: "He had everything, but plenty have good attributes and don't have the engine or can't do it when the gun is put to their head. He was able to stand up to it and never cracked under pressure."

Sea The Stars was sent off at 6-1 for his introduction in a 7f Curragh maiden on good ground, with Tony O'Hehir noting in the Racing Post analysis: "He improved to chase the leaders towards the inside over two furlongs out, didn't have much room to manoeuvre over a furlong out before running on quite well in the closing stages."

Sea The Stars and his connections following his marvellous display in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown
His rider Mick Kinane said of the run: "I had him in among horses and I was just denied a run when I needed one, but in hindsight not winning first time out was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.

"It meant he could go and have an easy win in a maiden next time before having to step him up into Group company."

Oxx added of the expectations prior to the son of Urban Sea's debut effort: "We were sure he was going to be a good horse. How good – only time would tell. He wasn't really wound up for his first race although he had plenty of work under his belt."

He added: "It was always Michael Kinane's style to give a horse a nice introduction and not frighten him in any way."

The rest as they say was history, as Sea The Stars landed a Leopardstown maiden on his next start before going on to win the Beresford Stakes and his historic haul of prizes during his Classic season.

Sea The Stars: stands at Gilltown Stud at a fee of €135,000
Asked just what set the now 12-year-old apart as an outstanding racehorse, both Kinane and Oxx agree it was Sea The Stars' mental capabilities which allowed him to reach such lofty heights.

"He just had this fantastic mind" said Kinane. "He was a lovely sound horse of limb. Never disappointed us from the very first half-speed he ever did."

Oxx agreed: "It was his temperament, action and athleticism but exactly as Mick says it was his mind. He passes that on to a lot of his stock too, plenty of whom are fluent movers like him.

"Temperament is a big part of the success of great horses and mental constitution is how ones like him go through that three-year-old year. Mental toughness is the key."


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We were sure he was going to be a good horse. How good - only time would tell
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