If he happens to win the Arc the way he has won everything else, Sea The Stars will be compared with the greatest champions in Turf history.
But should he fail altogether, in Paris tomorrow, he will also be keeping some pretty good company. Many outstanding three-year-olds have sunk without trace, in crossing the Channel at the end of a season that began with frost still on the ground. The springtime preparations of Salsabil, Generous and Reference Point secured them all Classics; but their mutual failures at Longchamp helped to persuade trainers that an Arc horse needs a midsummer break.
Sea The Stars, in contrast, has been campaigned very positively all season. Being so versatile in terms of distance, but less so in terms of ground, the Arc was never an immutable target. Every horse – good, bad or indifferent – has finite resources. But he has repeatedly given the impression that he has ample in reserve, and again bounced eagerly into his work after his latest win at Leopardstown last month.
Sea The Stars will certainly win if able to show his best form, but it would be crazy to cheapen a thrilling spectacle by taking such a short price in such a big field. After all, his one previous race over this distance came in the Derby, in a sprint finish. Horses like Fame And Glory and Conduit, in contrast, are dyed-in-the-wool stayers who could give each-way supporters plenty of excitement should Sea The Stars finally be forced from his comfort zone.
Kieren Fallon could, meanwhile, get a tune out of Youmzain, already runner-up twice in this race, while 33-1 makes Beheshtam the value among the home team.
All things being equal, of course, Sea The Stars would have a colt like Beheshtam for le petit déjeuner. But if you want to have a bet with a clear conscience, there are five other Group One races on the card. Total Gallery is a very progressive sprinter who should be fair value in the Prix de l'Abbaye, for instance, while Midday looks solid in the Prix de l'Opera. Yeats, meanwhile, rounds off his own mighty career in the Prix du Cadran, and will finish either last, as he did in bad ground at the Curragh last time, or first, as he has in four Ascot Gold Cups. Odds of 3-1 incline one towards an optimistic conclusion.
Highlight of today's card, incidentally, is the appearance of Goldikova in the Prix de la Forêt. If horses like Yeats and Goldikova are only at the fringe of the constellation, Sea The Stars must burn brightly indeed.