Andrea Atzeni missed three rides, including Balmoral Handicap winner Sharja Bridge, at British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday after being informed, at the last minute, by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) that he would have to serve both days of a two-day ban imposed by the French racing authority, France Galop, after all. However, the Italian jockey could be in for an altogether more satisfactory, and rewarding, experience at Newmarket on Wednesday, starting with Prefontaine in the British Stallion Studs EBF Nursery (3.45).
Being by Mastercraftsman out of a Hurricane Run mare, Roger Varian’s colt has plenty of stamina in both halves of his pedigree and, unsurprising, has improved with each start as he’s gradually stepped up in distance. He opened his account on his first attempt at a mile and a quarter in a similar race at Nottingham two weeks ago and, although raised 7lb for that success, may be able to continue his progress.
The Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket, on which the ability to see out the trip thoroughly is essential, should play to his strengths and, while the Nottingham form has yet to be fully tested, his previous effort, when runner-up to the 90-rated Cap Francais over a mile at Haydock, looks strong in the context of this race. Fellow distance winners Just Hubert and Fearless Warrior are likely to make sure he doesn’t have things all his own way, but both make their handicap debuts off seemingly high enough marks, so Prefontaine looks a decent bet to follow up his Nottingham victory.
Selection: Newmarket 3.45 Prefontaine to win 10/3
Sea-Bird only ran in eight career races. However, the French stallion won seven of those contests while finishing second in the other. Although Sea-Bird left a mark on the horse racing sport, not much was thought of the horse early on in his life. In fact, he was just another colt at Haras de Victot in Calvados. However, there was one aspect that did strike those who saw Sea-Bird, especially later on, and it was his long, thick legs.
Trained by Etienne Pollet, Sea-Bird featured in three races in his debut season. The two-year-old stormed to victory in the first two contests, the Prix de Blaison at Chantilly and the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte. In his final race of 1964, Sea-Bird tasted defeat for the first and only time of his career. He came in second at the Grand Criterium behind his stablemate Grey Dawn. Pollet and jockey Pat Glennon weren’t worried about Sea-Bird’s loss, however. In fact, the two weren’t sure if the stallion was good enough to enter the race beforehand.
Despite the loss at Grand Criterium, Sea-Bird was highly thought of by horse racing aficionados going into 1965. Now three-years old, Sea-Bird won all five of his starts. He won his first two races of the season on French soil before heading to England. There, he won the Epsom Derby in fine fashion after being described as “plain” before the race.
A return to France saw Sea-Bird win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. His win back on French soil changed the views of many nonbelievers, who had written Sea-Bird off as a flash in the pan. The colt that hadn’t been special on Pollet’s farm, was now bigger, stronger and more cocksure than the rest of the racing field; and the stallion continued to prove his racing strengths. Sea-Bird’s presence alone may have won him the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
After the 1965 season, Sea-Bird was retired. Even before his final race at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Sea-Bird’s future was set. American John W. Galbreath leased the stallion for $1.35m and Sea-Bird took up residence in Kentucky at the Darby Dan Farm.