The 2008 Cox Plate was a red-letter day for Mark Kavanagh. Maldivian triumphed in the big one while his stablemate Whobegotyou was too good in the G2 AAMI Vase.
But Kavanagh was far from finished despite winning the two features. The G2 Jayco Crystal Mile closed the card and Kavanagh dodged the back-slappers to saddle up Sea Battle in the lucky last at Moonee Valley.
Sea Battle made it a day to remember for Kavanagh and stable jockey Michael Rodd when he collared Pillar Of Hercules at the top of the straight and then surged clear for a convincing victory.
Memories of that Cox Plate day were revived this week when Sea Battle was retired to stand at The Grange in Victoria. He will stand for a $5,000 fee at the Lancefield based stud.
Sea Battle (6h Quest For Fame – Peppie by Danehill) began his career in NSW and broke through in a 3YO Maiden at Warwick Farm in October 2006. Transferred to Melbourne, he won at Caulfield, Sandown and Flemington before doubling up at headquarters in the Listed Winter Championship in July 2008.
Following a brief break, Kavanagh upped the ante at the spring carnival and Sea Battle responded when runner-up to ill-fated sprinter Sunburnt Land in the in the Hussonet Cup at Caulfield.
After keeping his perfect Flemington record intact on Turnbull Stakes day, Sea Battle was far from overawed when elevated to G1 level in the 2008 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield. He had a very hard run on the speed and put up an outstanding effort to be beaten less than three lengths by Kiwi star Alamosa.
The next feature mile on the calendar was the Crystal Mile on Cox Plate day and Sea Battle supported his stablemates to the max at Moonee Valley.
He signed off for the spring with an eye-catching second to All Silent in the G1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on the last day of the Melbourne Cup carnival. The winner received a charmed run under Dwayne Dunn and cruised home by three lengths. Nevertheless, Sea Battle would have finished much closer but for a tardy getaway and striking trouble in running.
Kavanagh spelled the stallion for nine months before bringing him back for the G2 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield last year. “Sea Battle was a bit fat inside and it was his first go at weight-for-age,” Kav said when recalling the 2009 Memsie. “But he was a very honest horse and wasn’t beaten far behind Mic Mac and Whobegotyou.”
Sea Battle jarred up on hard tracks and the water-walker helped him stay in shape but connections were forced to pull the pin on his career without another start.
His sire Quest For Fame is 23 and was pensioned by Darley shortly after covering a book of 53 mares last year. He was a G1 winner of the 1990 English Derby and 1992 Hollywood Turf Hcp before shuttling between Juddmonte Farms in America and Woodlands Stud.
Quest For Fame’s Australian bred sire sons include the G1 performers Viscount (Oaklands – WA), Dracula (Egmont – Qld) and De Beers (Lindsay Pk – SA). He also sired ill-fated G1 Flight Stakes winner Unworldly who Bob Ingham rated as the best filly to ever represent the cerise army.
Sea Battle is a brother to Poulter who was runner-up in the Listed NZ Southland Guineas. He also raced as Full of Joy in Hong Kong and was G3 placed in the HKJC Macau Trophy at Sha Tin.
Their dam has a yearling colt by Starcraft and a weanling colt by Bernardini. Second-dam Pepite D’or (Dieu d’Or) was a Listed 2YO winner at Flemington and her brother Gold Ace was a G1 winner of the VRC Lightning and Gadsden Stakes and the AJC The Galaxy.
Kavanagh had the last word when quizzed about Sea Battle. “His form was outstanding in the spring of 2008. He was a good horse and tried his heart out every time.”
Booking to Sea Battle can be arranged by calling The Grange on 0419 112 696 or 0430 321 024.