Tony Morris recently wrote this about Sea the Stars and the next stage of his career as a stallion: “Rather than sell him outright, Christopher Tsui might be well advised to try to form a syndicate of prominent breeders to invest in the horse. Syndication went out of fashion a while ago, when the mega-rich such as the Maktoums, Coolmore and Khaled Abdullah came to dominate the stallion business, but it should still have appeal as the way to get all the top people onside, spread the risk, and give the horse his best chance of success as a sire.” It’s the likely scenario for the recent Arc winner, for many reasons, one being that Mr. Tsui has shown no inclination to sell the horse.
The two main competitors for Sea the Stars, for an outright sale, would be bitter competitors Darley (Sheikh Mohammed) and Coolmore (John Magnier et al). Neither supports the other’s stallions, so right away one or the other would be taken out of the equation if either one got the stallion. Both, however, have links to Sea the Stars and his connections, the Tsui family and the Irish National Stud, where Sea the Stars’ dam, the late Urban Sea, was boarded. The Tsuis foal-shared Urban Sea with Coolmore’s Sadler’s Wells on several occasions, and the major result was Coolmore’s Epsom Derby winner and outstanding stallion Galileo. Darley owns the stallion King’s Best from this family, and it stands Cape Cross, Sea the Stars’ sire. Additionally, Sheikh Mohammed is a 25-percent owner of the Irish National Stud’s Invincible Spirit, who like Cape Cross is a son of Darley’s Green Desert.
The key player in the equation is Irish National Stud boss John Clarke, who has been a friend and adviser to the Tsui family, notably to Christopher Tsui’s mother, Ling Tsui. Mrs. Tsui has final say on all decisions, but she had leaned heavily on the advice of Mr. Clarke since Urban Sea has resided at the Irish National Stud. It’s interesting to note that after years of successful visits to Sadler’s Wells, the mare was sent to horses that Darley either stands or has a stake in. They include two foals by Green Desert in 2004 and 2005, Sea the Stars in 2006 (Cape Cross), barren to Shamardal in 2007, a dead foal by Pivotal in 2008, and a foal by Invincible Spirit in 2009. The mare died earlier this year.
Mr. Clarke has already announced that he will be leaving the Irish National Stud this year to pursue bloodstock interests for his own account. At the Irish National Stud, he would not have been able to participate in potentially lucrative commissions, such as in the $15 million that Sheikh Mohammed paid for a quarter interest in Invincible Spirit. However, once on his own, he’d be the perfect candidate to act as syndicate manager for Sea the Stars — and finally get some real money for his work.
So, getting back to Tony Morris’s scenario, one likely outcome would be that Sea the Stars is syndicated, with Mr. Clarke as the syndicate manager, and the horse would stand at the neutral Irish National Stud, where he was foaled. Leading breeders from around the world would participate in the syndication, including arch rivals Darley and Coolmore. This would assure the promising prospect the best mares in service, and it would also guarantee that his yearlings offered at public auction would be sought after by both Sheikh Mohammed and the Coolmore group.