Monday 23 October 2017

Sea the Stars

Sea The Stars, owned by Christopher Tsui and trained by John Oxx in Co. Kildare, was a half-brother to Galileo and, in 2009, had arguably the most successful three-year-old campaign of any modern thoroughbred. Indeed, he had a perfect record, winning all six races at the highest level, at distances ranging from a mile to a mile and a half, and earning £4,347,391 in prize money. Frankel, by contrast, won five Group One races during his three-year-old campaign, earning £1,106,235 in prize money, but didn’t race beyond a mile.

Sea The Stars won the first two colts’ Classics of the season, the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Derby at Epsom, before taking on his elders for the first time in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Ridden by Mick Kinane, as he was throughout his career, Sea The Stars dug deep to fend off the potent challenge of Rip Van Winkle by a length, with Conduit a further 4½ lengths behind in third. In so doing, he became the first horse since Nashwan in 1989 to complete the 2,000 Guineas-Derby-Eclipse treble.

Sea The Stars subsequently won the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at the Curragh with the minimum of fuss consequently started odds on to become the first horse ever to win the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He took a keen hold at Longchamp and, having been restrained, made good progress on the inside with two furlongs to run and powered clear in the closing stages to win, impressively by 2 lengths. Mick Kinane said afterwards, “He’s exceptional – he’s just a phenomenal, rare horse. They were going a nice pace and I knew I would need a bit of luck in the straight, no matter what happened, but I knew I had the pace to go anywhere I wanted.”

Understandably, Sea The Stars was named Cartier Horse of the Year for 1986 and, at the time, his Timeform rating of 140 was the seventh best ever awarded.

Thursday 12 October 2017


Notwithstanding an increasingly implausible Timeform rating of 212 – 2lb superior to contemporary stable companion Flyingbolt, but 30lb superior to any other steeplechaser in the last fifty years or so – Arkle remains the yardstick by which equine talent, at least in the sphere of National Hunt racing, is measured.

Named, not inappropriately, after a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, Arkle stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries, with the exception of Flyingbolt, whome he never raced. Between 1962 and 1966, the horse often revered simply as ‘Himself’, or ‘The Champion’, won 22 of his 26 races over fences. His major claim to fame was winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years running, in 1964, 1965 and 1996, but he also won the Irish Grand National in 1964, the King George VI Chase in 1965, the Hennessy Gold Cup in 1964 and 1965, under 12st 7lb on both occasions, and the Whitbread Gold Cup in 1965, again under 12st 7lb.

Arkle demonstrated his class, most obviously, in handicaps, in which he routinely conceded two stone and upwards to the best steeplechasers of the day. Perhaps his most astonishing weight concession ever came in the Gallaher Gold Cup at Sandown in 1965, in which he faced his old rival, Mill House, who was receiving 16lb. Approaching the so-called Railway Fences – three fences that come in very quick succession at the end of the back straight – Arkle trailed Mill House and, momentarily, looked vulnerable. However, in a matter of strides, he effortlessly swept past the leader and drew away in the closing stages to win by 20 lengths, breaking the course record by 17 seconds in the process.
Arkle fractured a pedal bone in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, 1966 and, although he recovered from the injury, he never raced again. Five years after his death, at the age of 13, in 1970, his body was exhumed and his skeleton placed on permanent display at the Irish National Stud in Co. Kildare.

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Richard Fahey

Nigerian born Richard Fahey is one of the UK’s leading trainers, who has racked up over 2,000 winners.

He equalled the record for most flat winners trained in a calendar year in 2015 with 235 wins, and by the end of the 2017 season had 200 victories to his name and earned prize money of over £4.2m.
Fahey turned to training after a successful ten-year stint as a jockey, where he chalked up over 100 wins and shared the conditional jockeys’ title in the 1988-89 season.

After a period running a livery, in 1993 he turned his hand to training and set up his stable at Manor Farm, Butterwick near Malton with 10 horses. 

His first taste of success came with National Hunt performer Noyan, who won the Irish Heineken Gold Cup in 1997. That was followed by the first of five Royal Ascot winner with Superior Premium in 2002. By the 2003 season he had saddled over 50 winners for the first time. 

Fahey’s move to Musley Bank Stables in Malton in 2005 would prove to be a turning point in his career. A year later he broke the £1million prize money barrier and trained over 100 winners. Last year it turned out over 200 winners including Ribchester who took victory in the Locking Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, Prix Jacques Le Marois and Prix du Moulin. 

He is well known for his 12-year partnership with double champion jockey Paul Hanagan, who has credited his success to Fahey’s abilities.