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We won't Sea his like again for a long time

Not for many years has one season been so explicitly defined by one horse.

Hyperbole was exhausted long ago when summarising the legacy of Sea The Stars, but, for once, every lavish adjective can be considered utterly appropriate.

Months have now passed since John Oxx's talismanic colt won the Arc -- his sixth successive Group One triumph -- but the residual sense of accomplishment will remain forever.

The Derby and 2000 Guineas hero was a wonder: a unique freak of an animal blessed with God-given qualities of speed, stamina and downright good grace. His rider Mick Kinane also heads for the sunset of retirement, leaving the weighing room a poorer place.

In what was a financially terse year for Flat racing, Sea The Stars reassuringly emerged the saviour of a sport in desperate need of a white knight. Not that the Ballydoyle brigade, for who Sea The Stars was their year-long nemesis, had much motivation to crack open the bubbly.

Chief bridesmaid for Coolmore was Rip Van Winkle, who deservedly enjoyed two monster payouts in the QEII and the Sussex Stakes before folding tamely behind the mighty Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

It was, though, hardly a doomsday campaign for O'Brien. Fame And Glory won the Irish Derby, while a clutch of brilliant juveniles will gallop into next year's Classics brimming with brio.

Nothing from Ballydoyle, however, came close to replicating Yeats, who set alight a rather humdrum Royal Ascot by pocketing his fourth Gold Cup.

For much of the early throes of the season, Godolphin also appeared to be running on empty. Then, in an unpredictable act all too familiar with racing fans, the winners began to flow like vintage claret, Frankie Dettori was smiling again, and Mastery won the St Leger.

Michael Bell may indeed feel the same way about Sariska, the classy Oaks winner who is widely predicted to carry all before her as a four-year-old.

Michael Stoute's long-term memories of the season will also pivot around Ascot, where he initiated a mesmeric 1-2-3 in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Conduit led home the Freemason Lodge triumvirate, before the underrated colt stuck to his end of the bargain in Santa Anita when snaring a double in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Kieren Fallon brought to the table a slap of intrigue. And while the jury is out as to whether he is indeed a changed man, Fallon's return only serves to polarise just how much a great talent can be missed in racing.

Just ask the countless disciples of Sea The Stars, the true essence of equine utopia.


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