It was a privilege to witness a near-perfect racehorse. This was a colt who dismissed his contemporaries repeatedly, triumphed over older horses and transcended the ages with displays of such ability even elder statesmen of racing readily confessed to his deserving place at the top table.
However, the consequence of experiencing such a colossus is dealing with the gulf left behind when they inevitably depart. Flat racing, especially, offers only short periods to enjoy the very best as the breeding shed always looms large over the sport, stealing away top racehorses with the lure of payouts inconceivable on the track.
Consequently, although it is rare to have such giant horseshoes to fill, Flat racing engages in a yearly search for the next Nijinsky, Mill Reef or Dancing Brave – and now a Sea The Stars.
While racing may not witness a superstar of Sea The Stars’ fury for some time, this year’s crop of juveniles contains many exciting prospects, would-be heirs to the throne.
The name most commonly bandied about is St Nicholas Abbey, hailing from a Ballydoyle yard seeking to reassert their dominance over the sport.
A Montjeu colt and undefeated in two starts, St Nicholas Abbey confirmed his ability by taking the Group Two Juddmonte Beresford Stakes in September – significantly perhaps, a race won twelve months ago by Sea The Stars.
While an appearance in the Racing Post Trophy is possible, most punters are already looking to next season where the Aidan O’Brien-trained juvenile is a 10-1 ante-post Derby favourite, although he has shown enough pace to be a genuine Guineas chance. He does look exceptional at this stage.
Godolphin, bolstered by one of their best seasons since the late 90s, boast two contenders who could aspire to the peak of the sport.
Al Zir, named after a sixth century Arabian warrior-poet, cost connections the princely sum of €1.7million as a yearling.
While looking more a Derby type than a Guineas horse, Al Zir has vast potential; he was galloping all over his rivals in a recent conditions race and looks set to prove a potent force over middle distances next term.
The recent acquisition by Godolphin of National Stakes first and second Kingsfort and Chabal looks shrewd business as well.
Acomb winner Elusive Pimpernel is another to hold legitimate claims to take high rank in 2010. For all that he is lightly raced as yet, the Acomb is among the strongest pieces of juvenile form available.
Then there is the much-hyped Coordinated Cut, winner of his only race so far and trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, the man responsible for 2007 Derby hero Authorized.
It is unlikely that any of these contenders will be of the quality of the departing king, but next season promises to be fascinating nonetheless.