There can be few occasions on which the thought of backing an unraced two year old can be considered anything other than madness. You can count the number of times I've done this on the fingers of one hand. I used up the pinkie finger towards the end of June this year, after I read an article about Born To Sea.
The half brother to See The Stars made a belated racecourse debut on Saturday, having recovered from sore shins. His first appearance, in the Listed Blenheim Stakes at the Curragh, was, in the end, a comfortable success, which catapulted Born To Sea to the head of the market for both the 2000 Guineas, for which Paddy Power make him 6/1 favourite, and the Derby next year.
"It was a good effort for a horse having his first run and beating horses rated in the high 90s," trainer John Oxx told At The Races. "It was nice to see him run over 100 on his first start, it was a pretty good start for any horse. He's got a bit of talent and is bred to have it.â€
Things were not totally straightforward for Born To Sea in the race itself, as he was boxed in little short of room just after halfway in the six furlong contest. However once jockey Johnny Murtagh switched him to the outer over a furlong out, the colt quickened well, getting to the front inside the final furlong. The son of Invincible Spirit eventually recorded a length and a half win over Pearl In The Sand.
The performance impressed more than the bookmakers, and although connections were keen to play down longer term expectations, that won't be an easy thing to do. Oxx had said before the race that he did not particularly expect victory, and that the horse was there primarily to gain racecourse experience. To win a Listed race on debut is quite some achievement, and to have done so without being given a hard time suggests Born To Sea has an exciting future ahead of him.
Murtagh was clearly excited about what lies ahead for the partnership. He said that he believes Born To Sea will be ideally suited by seven furlongs and will stay a mile next season but was not convinced that he would stay as far as 12 with his sire, Invincible Spirt, an influence for speed.
Oxx identified the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown for him at the end of October as his only other run this year. That's seven weeks away, and given that Born To Sea has already suffered some leg problems, it may be that he will regularly need quite a break between his races, and, for the time being at least, benefit from cutting the ground. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he went straight to the Guineas next season.
With all that in mind, I'm delighted that on the day I return from holiday, I've been able to lay Born To Sea, so that whatever the result at Newmarket next Spring, next year's holiday is already paid for.