John Oxx says it was a “miracle” that he had the opportunity to work with Sea The Stars and believes very few trainers will ever have the chance to saddle such a successful racehorse.
Sea The Stars is widely considered as one of the greatest thoroughbreds in history after a three-year-old campaign that saw him win six Group 1 races in the space of six months during 2009.
Victories in the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby were followed by wins in the Eclipse, the Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes before the superstar sprinter bowed out with a stunning performance in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Speaking about Sea The Stars on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, trainer Oxx – who is retiring at the end of the season – said: “He was a beautiful horse and of course he had this terrific pedigree – a half-brother to Galileo so obviously your hopes are always high when they have a pedigree like that.
“He had a great conformation – a beautiful well-grown horse, beautiful mover, smashing temperament. He was a kid’s ride as a yearling, did everything right, learned quickly, was big, smart, knew everything straightaway. He was the easiest horse to break so obviously we had hopes for him.
“He was the sort of horse you’d put Mick Kinane on the first chance you get. Mick was impressed right from the beginning so our hopes were high, but we’ve all seen that before – the early signs are good, pedigree is good, the horse is nice and they work well and sometimes they go on and they win the first race [but] so many of them then just crack when the big day comes.
“But with him, he never cracked. He was never in danger of cracking either. We knew he had the constitution mentally and physically to go right through the three-year-old year and win all those races. Once he’d won the Guineas and the Derby, we knew what he had then and we just had to keep him right and go through the rest of them and hope for the best.”
Oxx is a legendary figure in the horse racing community, having saddled a total of 33 Group 1 winners during a 41-year career that began back in 1979.
The 70-year-old enjoyed great success with Sinndar, winning the Derby, Irish Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2000 while Alamshar won the Irish Derby and the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2003.
Oxx, who has decided to call it quits in order to enjoy a well-earned retirement, also won the Breeders’ Cup with Ridgewood Pearl and the Gold Cup with Enzeli but training Sea The Stars will remain his crowning achievement.
“I’m not sure I can remember the BBC interview [after Sea The Stars won the Arc], but with a horse like that it would make you emotional,” said Oxx.
“I still get a bit emotional actually talking about him. That win was such an important thing.
“Of course its such a great thing to have a horse like that – it was a real miracle, no trainer could ever expect to train a horse like Sea The Stars – it’s just they’re so rare and for one to land in your stable couldn’t be planned and you’re just so grateful to have them.
“But it was such a relief that day to see him win the last race, get over that last hurdle, because he had to win all those races to be one of the greats. You don’t get that tag by having one great performance – you’ll see some horses and they’ll have one fantastic performance, but they can never repeat, but he had a series of them each month for six months.
“But he had to do that and he couldn’t be beaten in the Arc – it was one time I was pretty anxious. We knew he was in great shape and in fact Mick said he was better than ever, he was improving all the time.
“But the Arc you can lose and things can go wrong so to get him over the line was just an incredible, incredible thing. So if I was emotional, I can understand why!”
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