Oxx braced for Stars war

John Oxx is well aware staying is likely to be the name of the game when Sea The Stars bids to secure his place in racing legend with victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp tomorrow.

Oxx braced for Stars war

A truly epic campaign has seen him emulate Nashwan with success in the 2000 Guineas, Derby and Eclipse, while he has also added the Juddmonte International and Irish Champion.

Aidan O’Brien has tried — and failed — to lower his colours all year, but in Derby and Irish Champion runner-up Fame And Glory, the Ballydoyle team this weekend pose a serious threat back over a mile and a half.

Oxx said: “I think Fame And Glory is the biggest danger on the form and will stay the mile and half well. We think our fellow will stay the distance well, also, but he has only won over it once.

“But that will be what they are thinking — that Fame And Glory could be more of a danger to him over a mile and a half.

“Our fellow has too much speed for him over a mile and a quarter. I suppose they’ll try and make it a fast pace again and test the stamina to the limit.

“We have been happy with him, he’s been fit and healthy all year. We have to hope that he can maintain it now.

“When he is at the races and jumps out of the stalls, he is ready to go.

“But you wouldn’t call him a horse that pulls, so a slow pace shouldn’t be against him.

“He stayed well at Epsom, he never had any problems.

“We didn’t miss the King George because of the distance, I just felt having had a Guineas preparation that it was just time to ease off a little bit, to take the foot off the pedal so to speak.

“It just happened the King George was it. I didn’t enjoy missing it as it is a great race and we have been lucky to have won it twice in recent years.

“I would have loved to have run him in it. It would have been either miss that or York, and we worked out that a little break was good.

“Mick (Kinane) has been great on him all year and has so much experience, such a calm approach to all his races, and has been in all these races before.

“He also knows all the idiosyncrasies of the track.

“We never discuss the race much before, he knows the horse and the opposition.

“It is a great comfort to have him.”

Oxx will be having just his second runner in the Arc, and currently holds a 100% strike-rate after Sinndar powered to glory in 2000.

But there is no doubting Sea The Stars has a special place in the heart of the softly-spoken Currabeg maestro.

He added: “You would have to say he is the best I have ever trained.

“Sinndar was also a great horse and I’m sure he would also have been very good over shorter trips.

“But like a lot of good horses he was kept at what was considered his strength — which was a mile and a half.

“When we built him up for that to run him at Epsom, we kept him at that for the Arc as it looked the obvious race for him.

“But with this fellow it has been different, he has all this range of possibilities distance-wise so there were all these other races to go for.

“He has come through them all spectacularly well.

“He just has so much speed, the way he travels through the race, the way he canters on the bridle and it is remarkable to watch it. He’s got to be the best I have had, he is the horse with the highest rating I have had.

“He always looked special from the day he came to us. He seemed to know what to do right away and was a lovely horse, you could do anything with him.

“It is quite something to end up with this fellow. The whole thing is a miracle, it’s a series of miracles, there are various strands to it.

“To train horses like Sea The Stars, Sinndar, Azamour or Ridgewood Pearl, that’s what you dream about when your father is a trainer or as a kid growing up.

“You want to train lots of winners, you want to do well and provide a good service and have happy clients and train winners for them.

“But it’s the great horses along the way that makes it worthwhile.

“We have the last hurdle to jump now and the Arc is of course a race where horses are ultimately judged, so we have to get through that. It would be nice and that is why it is important to win again.”

- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: Cashmans bet - 8/11 Sea The Stars, 11/2 Fame And Glory, 9 Conduit, 12 Cavalryman, 14 Stacelita, Vision D'etat, 20 Youmzain, 22 Dar Re Mi, 25 Getaway, 33 Beheshtam, 150 Bar

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