F.B.A. Review of 2009


The majority of European sales held up well throughout 2009 given the current world economy, certainly better than those in the USA where steep declines in bloodstock values demonstrated a closer linkage to general economic recession.

Particular mention should go to French sale company Arqana and the re-vamped management with sales continuing to go from strength to strength. The substantial improvements planned for the Deauville sales complex bodes well for the future of the company with its town centre location.

2009 saw the death of racing legend Vincent O’Brien who at the age of 92 passed away poignantly during Derby week. O’Brien was arguably the greatest racehorse trainer in the history of the sport with an unequalled record under both National Hunt and then the Flat, winning 4 Cheltenham Gold Cups, 3 Champion Hurdles and 3 consecutive Grand Nationals, followed by 27 Irish Classics, 3 ‘Arcs’ and 16 English Classics including 6 Epsom Derbies.

There was also the sad loss of outstanding racehorse and broodmare Urban Sea who died from complications whilst foaling. An ‘Arc’ winner herself she had produced the Classic winner and leading sire Galileo as well as two other Group 1 winners but the best was still to come after her death with her extraordinary son Sea The Stars. A truly remarkable racehorse he was beautifully handled by John Oxx to win six Group 1 races in as many months including an unprecedented Guineas-Derby-Arc treble. Sea The Stars is now resident at The Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud where he will start his new career. His jockey Mick Kinane chose the moment following those victories to call time on his own 34 year career in the saddle at the end of the season.

Other memorable performances included the Michael Bell trained filly Sariska completing the Oaks double by winning at Epsom and The Curragh. Yeats won a record-breaking fourth Ascot Gold Cup confirming himself as arguably the greatest stayer of all time. Superstar filly Zenyatta produced an extraordinary performance to ‘beat the boys’ and remain unbeaten in the Breeders Cup Classic, but was still beaten to the Eclipse award by that other superstar filly Rachel Alexander. St Nicholas Abbey was the standout 2yo of the season winning all three of his starts culminating in an extremely impressive display in the Racing Post Trophy confirming his place at the head of the market for the 2010 Derby.

The ongoing battle between the Paul Nicholls trained pair Kauto Star and Denman continued as the highlight of the National Hunt world. Kauto Star broke Desert Orchid’s record by winning his fourth consecutive King George and Denman won the Hennessy Gold Cup for the second time with a hugely impressive weight carrying performance confirming that he is right back to his best.


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