Sea's show of strength weakens the reformers

The racing calendar has evolved haphazardly but still provides cherished test

There are those who view the crossroads now facing its latest champion as itself a deficiency in the sport. But they need to get their noses out of the atlas and admire the scenery.

John Oxx, the mild, clerical figure whose inner fervour has unmistakably been vested in the brilliance and virility of the 230th Derby winner, Sea The Stars, was yesterday still contemplating a variety of possible targets for the colt's next appearance. Most obviously there is the Irish Derby but Oxx wryly notes that his home county of Kildare has not offered the dry conditions required by this colt for "two and a half years". An alternative, six days later on July 4, would be the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Then there all manner of options for the second half of the season.

Some misguided reformers will tell you that a programme should be contrived that leaves Oxx and his patrons little choice in the matter. That big races can be manipulated towards some kind of inexorable narrative momentum. Something, in other words, along the lines of the American Triple Crown.

But the whole point is that such an institution cannot be fabricated overnight. The Belmont Stakes, its final leg, was staged for a 141st time just a few hours after Sea The Stars passed the post on Saturday, when the only available "Triple Crown" beckoned Calvin Borel. He had ridden Mine That Bird to win the Kentucky Derby, before deserting him to take the Preakness Stakes on Rachel Alexandra. In her absence, Borel switched back to Mine That Bird but had to settle for third behind Summer Bird.

America's craving for a 12th Triple Crown winner meanwhile extends into a 32nd year. You hear sacrilegious proposals over there, too, to make the challenge less exacting. But in recent seasons a series of near-misses have reiterated its essential feasibility, and its value as an unchanging yardstick.

In becoming the first in two decades to win both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, Sea The Stars has performed a very similar service here. After all, while none since Nashwan had completed the double, two of the three previous Derby winners, Sir Percy and New Approach, had finished second over the mile at Newmarket.

The priorities of trainers, owners and above all commercial breeders bob flimsily up and down on the fitful tides of fashion but the lessons learned over centuries abide. The racing calendar evolved in a haphazard way, often in obedience to the peregrinations of a forgotten aristocracy, but has ended up providing tests that are both cherished and instructive.

In the old days, the prospect of a British Triple Crown would have tempted Sea The Stars towards the St Leger, which has admittedly flirted with obsolescence. But while Oxx acknowledges that another two furlongs would be "a bridge too far" for a son of Cape Cross, he insists that the time will come when even so valuable a stallion prospect will again proceed to Doncaster in September.

His logic is that stallions like Galileo have restored stamina to commercial respectability. Galileo, of course, is the half-brother to Sea The Stars who gave their dam, Urban Sea, a first Derby winner in 2001 – just one of the countless big wins that fortified the belief and composure of Michael Kinane on Saturday.

The genes of Cape Cross had caused doubt about the stamina of Sea The Stars, but none coloured Kinane's riding. True, the pace was less searching than anticipated, and certainly things might have been different had rainstorms not skirted the race. To that extent, the sport has been blessed by fate.

Above all, however, this was a day that endorsed less random influences.

Breeders persevere along a path that often seems decreed by madness, but here was vindication for their methods.

For two half-brothers to win the Derby – a deed happily preserved in the bronze presented to the winning owner, depicting Arthur Budgett with Blakeney (1969) and Morston (1973) – will only embolden Sheikh Mohammed in the fortunes he is spending on young stallions to take on Galileo.

He has just acquired another in Medaglia d'Oro, sire of Rachel Alexandra, and presumably he will be doing his utmost to get his hands on Sea The Stars himself, in time. It is intriguing that the Tsui family did not keep sending Urban Sea back to Coolmore Stud, home of the Sheikh's big rivals, after producing Galileo from a tryst with Sadler's Wells there.

The Coolmore stable, Ballydoyle, accounted for half the Derby field – including second, third, fourth and fifth. Shortly before the race, the odds against Fame And Glory were nearly halved by a gamble that seemed to end all equivocation about the principal Ballydoyle hope. But if he was unlucky to bump into a throwback, the wider industry can comfort itself with a regeneration.

The Derby: Where they finished

*3.45 Epsom, Saturday (1m 4f )

1. SEA THE STARS......... M J Kinane 11-4

2. Fame And Glory......... J A Heffernan 9-4 fav

3. Masterofthehorse......... R Hughes 16-1

Also ran: 6-1 Rip Van Winkle (4th), 7-1 Black Bear Island (10th), 8-1 Gan Amhras (11th), 20-1 Crowded House (6th), 25-1 Golden Sword (5th), 25-1 Age Of Aquarius (7th), 28-1 Kite Wood (9th), 33-1 Debussy (8th), 40-1 Montaff (12th). NR South Easter. 12 ran.

1¾l, nk, ns, shd, 6l. (J Oxx (Rep of Irl)). Tote: £3.40; £1.50, £1.50, £5.00. Exacta: £11.20. CSF: £8.80. Trifecta: £228.30.

News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£20000 - £21000 per annum: The Jenrick Group: This high quality manufacturer o...

The Jenrick Group: Electrical Maintenance Engineer

£30000 - £35000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Electrical ...

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'