Just recently I wrote a post on the Green Desert sire line in Europe (“One of the biggest sire-line developments of recent times is the growing influence of sons of Green Desert”), and the point was driven home Saturday in the “other” major classic of the day, the G1 2000 Guineas in England. As everyone knows by now, the winner was Sea the Stars, a son of Green Desert’s best son Cape Cross out of the fabulous producer (and G1 Arc winner) Urban Sea. (Click here to view the pedigree)
There’s been some great articles written on this family since the Guineas (the best, in my opinion, is Victor Sheahan’s “Who said it’s difficult to breed a classic winner” on the Montjeu.com blog), so I’m not going to rehash what’s already in print. But reading Victor’s article and examining the produce record of Urban Sea that he provided made me realize some astounding facts: Urban Sea’s first seven foals were produced by 12-furlong type horses, including four by Sadler’s Wells, the best source of classic stamina in Europe since he went to stud. In contrast, her last four live foals were produced by the sprint/miler line of Green Desert (2), Cape Cross, and Invincible Spirit – another son of Green Desert that I had highlighted in my blog piece (click here to read it)!
So, Urban Sea went from the best of the 12-furlong line, Sadler’s Wells, to the best of the 8 furlongs and less-line of Green Desert, after having produced a great Epsom Derby winner and outstanding stallion in Galileo (click here to view pedigree) and another G1 winner in Black Sam Bellamy. Urban Sea did not skip a beat, although the classic distance of her newest star predictably shortened (although he’s expected to go after the Epsom Derby, too!).
Sea the Star’s classic win at a mile in the Guineas – now the fourth G1 winner for Urban Sea – is a great compliment to everyone involved, from the sire to the dam to the breeder – Christopher Tsui – and to a couple of people in the background.
One of them is the Irish National Stud’s director, John Clarke, who offered guidance to the breeder’s family. Urban Sea, who was raced by Tsui, was boarded at the National Stud and died on March 2 this year after foaling the Invincible Spirit colt. The victory of Sea the Stars, John said, was “tempered by knowing that Urban Sea will never have another foal,” but John should be commended for taking a bold path away from the Sadler’s Wells line and striking gold with Cape Cross. John gives the credit to Christopher Tsui’s mother, Ling Tsui, and explained the decision.
He said: “The mating of Urban Sea was usually done easily as she was one of those mares who seemed to suit a wide variety of stallions. I always prepared a short list of stallions which I sent on to Ling Tsui, mother of Christopher Tsui; we would then discuss the choices and she would make the final decision.
“Cape Cross was picked as he had Ouija Board and other major winners when he could never have been expected to do so well off a €10,000 fee. In addition he had the advantage of being close to the Irish National Stud and is a very good-looking horse. All in all it was an easy decision as he was clearly upgrading his mares.
“The relationship I have with the Tsui family is one of deep respect and friendship and I would talk with Ling Tsui at least weekly. Obviously with such a happy outcome to our plans we have talked on many occasions since Saturday.”
It’s fortunate that The Irish National Stud also stands Invincible Spirit, because the Tsuis now have a foal that is closely related to the Guineas winner.
“The decision to use Invincible Spirit was made for much the same reasons and came on the back of a truly great year he had in 2007. We had already made the decision, after Sea the Stars looked so promising, to send her back to Cape Cross in 2009 but sadly she died after her foaling,” John said.
This classic story is far from over, because as John pointed out, Cape Cross’s Ouija Board did win the 12-furlong Oaks, so it’s possible that Sea the Stars may have a good chance in the Epsom Derby as well. And as far Invincible Spirit goes, he too has a Derby winner – his Lawman won the French classic at 10-plus furlongs.
(Footnote: Here’s the information that’s missing in Victor Sheahan’s chart of Urban Sea’s foals: She was barren in 2007 to Shamardal, had a dead foal by Pivotal in 2008, and had the Invincible Spirit in 2009.)