John Oxx recalls two of his favourite horses besides Sea The Stars

John Oxx saddled plenty of other winners in addition to Sea The Stars

Sinndar Johnny Murtagh Irish Derby July 2, 2000


John Oxx may be most famous for training the legendary Sea The Stars, but the Curragh conjuror has prepped plenty of other high-level horses throughout his career.

Oxx has recorded a total of 33 top class wins since starting out in 1979, including the Ascot Gold Cup with Enzeli and an Irish Derby and King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes double with Alamshar in 2003.

Sea The Stars is undoubtedly the stand-out runner on his CV after a 2009 campaign that saw six Group 1 wins in six months, but Oxx – who is retiring at the end of this season – also broke records with Sinndar in 2000.

Speaking about the Aga Khan-owned thoroughbred on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Oxx said: “I think he was the only horse to have won the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, and the Arc. He was a great horse [but] he was undemonstrative at home.

“He was a lovely-looking horse, beautiful horse, a beautiful mover. Anybody who’d come to the stable and come out with me looking at the horses would pick him out and say ‘God, what’s that?’

Sinndar Johnny Murtagh Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe October 1, 2020

“But he didn’t show a lot at home – I thought he could be a horse who would run well in a Derby without winning it, but it soon became apparent as a three-year-old that he was going to do much more than that and he always just pulled out enough. He was a horse that improved every time he went to the races.

“He was 5-7lbs better than the previous time – he just went up and up and up and there was no end to what he could pull out of the bag. He was a great horse – very solid, same every day, and just got a bit more aggressive as the year went on.

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“You could see him changing and improving into the autumn and as soon as he won the prep race for the Arc, the Prix Niel, we knew he’d be very hard to beat in the Arc.

“It all worked out well and he didn’t do too badly at stud actually, but he didn’t have a super pedigree. There were little things in his pedigree which maybe stopped him from doing a bit better at stud, but we have fond memories of him for sure.”

Oxx, who started his training career in 1979, won the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby, the Eclipse, the Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes with Sea The Stars before the superstar sprinter bowed out with victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

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Those wins came across the UK, Ireland and France while Oxx had already shown his horses travel well after Ridgewood Pearl won the Breeders’ Cup at Belmont, New York in 1995.

Ridgewood Pearl Breeders Cup Mile 1995

“Ridgewood Pearl was a great filly,” he said. “A big, strong masculine filly – very dependable. Her work at home was always very consistent – she was the same every day, she had great temperament.

“She was just a racing machine – you could see it the day she came in to the yard. I always like those big, strong fillies and she always looked really good.

“I’ll never forget the day Christy Roche rode her first time out at the Curragh in a Listed race. I think she was favourite – I wasn’t there, I had a runner in France on the day – but she got beaten a head and a neck, Christy just didn’t touch her with the whip, gave her a nice introduction. He came in and he told my assistant Jimmy ‘that’s the best filly I ever rode’ so I though ‘gosh!’

“We thought she was good all right, but that was a fair statement from Christy, who was a man with great instinct. He actually won the 1,000 Guineas on her then the next year.

“The Breeders’ Cup was a big event all right. Of course, at that time it was just one day and six races I think was all they had. Nowadays it has extended to two days and there are more races but they were difficult to win for sure and it was a great occasion, particularly because of who owned her too.

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“She was owned by a local man in Kildare, Sean Coughlan and his wife Anne. Sean wasn’t exactly born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he went to London, made a few bob and came back and had a horse and it was a great thing for him to have a champion filly trained on the Curragh beside where he was born and it was very exciting for him. They got tremendous, tremendous fun from it.”

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