How does Sea The Stars rate in Timeform’s historical pecking order?

Currently standing at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud, in Co. Kildare, for a stud fee of €150,000, Sea The Stars is rightly billed as ‘One of the all-time greats’. In an exceptional three-year-old campaign, in 2009, Sea The Stars carried all before him, winning all six starts, all at Group 1 level and including the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Timeform described his three-year-old campaign as ‘one of unparalleled, sustained excellence over a variety of trips.’ However, Sea The Stars achieved a Timeform Annual Rating of just 140 which, while the equivalent of that achieved by Shergar and Dancing Brave, among others, is only joint-eighth in the all-time list since Timeform ratings were first published in 1948. The horses rated higher than Sea The Stars in that list are Frankel, Sea-Bird, Brigadier Gerard, Tudor Minstrel, Abernant, Ribot and Mill Reef.

Few would argue that Timeform ratings are as accurate a measure as any of comparing one generation of racehorses with another. However, the ‘problem’ with Sea The Stars, as acknowledged by Timeform, wass that he was too far ahead of the rest of his generation for his own good. Trainer John Oxx said of him, ‘He always won comfortably [never by more than 2½ lengths] and had plenty of gas left as he didn’t exert himself too hard.’ The lack of ‘yardstick’ horses, by which to measure his performance, or any wide-margin victories, ultimately counted against Sea The Stars as far as his Timeform rating was concerned.