HORSE POWER: City Of Troy’s mega-flop in the 2000 Guineas keeps us aching for an all-conquering superstar like Sea The Stars and Frankel

It was the groans and the gasps that got you. Just 52 seconds into the most eagerly awaited 2,000 Guineas in a decade, the anxious change in Ryan Moore’s body language and the increased pitch of the racecourse commentator’s call made clear that the history books would remain closed.

City Of Troy was not going to bound down Newmarket’s Rowley Mile and those instinctive reactions of everyone present showed, once again, why there is no place quite like a sporting arena — whether it is a course, an arena or a stadium — for capturing emotion in its purest form.

Perhaps City Of Troy will redeem his reputation in the coming months, as his older stablemate Auguste Rodin did last summer. Nobody connected to the colt envisaged a situation on Saturday like the calamity that unfolded and his trainer, jockey and owners don’t tend to make wrong calls.

We will know on June 1 whether their faith is well placed. Aidan O’Brien won’t divert from his plan to run him in the Derby and regards him as his No 1 horse for Epsom; trials at Chester, Lingfield, York and Leopardstown loom but City Of Troy is viewed differently in Ballydoyle.

O’Brien is infectious when he gets excited about a horse. His words can sweep you along like the tune played by the Pied Piper, and everyone at Newmarket was invested in the story that we were about to see a wonder horse. It explained why the reaction to his flop was so profound.

City Of Troy will still run in the Derby despite his setback in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket

City Of Troy will still run in the Derby despite his setback in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket

But herein lay a lesson. There is an aching among racing fans for an all-conquering superstar to emerge, one that wins all the greatest races and does so with commanding panache. These horses, however, explode like meteors, their careers and programmes constantly evolving.

This takes us back to Sea The Stars and that golden summer of 2009. Plenty of talk has been made about City Of Troy emulating Frankel but what about moving into the realms of the colt who had swaggered around the year before the late, great Sir Henry Cecil’s masterpiece emerged? No grand pronouncements had been made about Sea The Stars before he arrived at Newmarket to contest the 2,000 Guineas. It was simply noted that he had been an excellent juvenile, was trained by a master in John Oxx and would be ridden in the Classic by the peerless Mick Kinane.

What followed after Kinane brought the colt with a withering run down the outside of the field could not have been scripted or preordained. Sea The Stars went to Epsom and defied doubts about his ability to last the mile-and-a-half trip in the most remarkable style.

Watch that race back and you will see a troop of O’Brien runners, scampering forlornly, as Kinane — who was heading into retirement at the end of the campaign — sent him remorselessly clear. He was the best Derby winner of the modern era, an absolute giant.

Had it not been for the weather, though, the story he ended up writing would not have materialised. Oxx initially planned to run Sea The Stars in the Irish Derby but a deluge at the Curragh forced a rethink and, instead, he went to the Coral-Eclipse.

From there, what Sea The Stars achieved hadn’t been done before and nor will it be done again: he won the Eclipse, laughed at his rivals in the Juddmonte International and repelled all-comers in the Irish Champion Stakes before a swansong in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Six months, six Group Ones, a winning spree and schedule without precedent.

‘He’s going to have to be a champion — and he is a champion!’ the great commentator Jim McGrath called that day in Paris as top gear was engaged. ‘Perfection in equine form, the horse of a lifetime! Sea The Stars!’

Sea The Stars claimed six Group One victories including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Sea The Stars claimed six Group One victories including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Yes, he was all that. But, for all us of watching, the narrative was so special because it hadn’t been expected. Under promising and over delivering, in any walk of life, is juxtaposed to painting grand plans and knocking off targets on the way.

Perhaps City Of Troy will re-emerge to reignite the summer but his story has a different tone now. Sea The Stars and Frankel remain in an orbit to which the others can only aspire.

Murphy still has jump dream

Oisin Murphy made a big wave last December when it emerged he had taken out a jump jockey’s licence to have a ride over hurdles.

A Champion and multiple Group One winner on the Flat, the idea of him taking a spin around Wincanton was charming.

A deluge, however, forced the plan to be abandoned. It was frustrating for all concerned, not least Irish trainer Cian Collins, who had sent a gelding called Let’s Do This with grand designs that Murphy would be aboard a winner.

Other commitments meant there was no chance of Murphy fulfilling his dream but Horse Power can reveal he will endeavour to rectify that this winter, provided he can successfully obtain a jumps licence once again.

Murphy’s sister, Blaithin, is general manager at Wincanton and the prospect of taking a winning ride at that West Country track is something that leaves him smiling.

Nothing will interfere with his responsibility as No 1 jockey to Qatar Racing but the ambition to test his hand in the winter game remains.

Owen eyes Chester glory

Monday marked 27 years since Michael Owen burst into the limelight, crowning his Liverpool debut in the second week of May with a goal as a substitute at Wimbledon.

Chester’s May Festival is arguably Michael Owen’s favourite three days on the calendar

Chester’s May Festival is arguably Michael Owen’s favourite three days on the calendar

The second week of May now, though, carries a totally different meaning for the former striker.

Chester’s May Festival is arguably Owen’s favourite three days on the calendar and there will be a significant number of runners from his Manor House Stables between now and Friday. Wins here are cherished as much as some of the goals he scored.

It was at this meeting in 2011 that Brown Panther, his pride and joy, stamped himself as a star in the making — what Owen would do to have another horse in the realms of that beautiful colt, who took him to places he never envisaged.

Keep an eye on all the entries of his trainer, Hugo Palmer, but particularly watch Box To Box, who is engaged in Friday’s 2.35 contest. The five-year-old is owned by a number of Owen’s close pals and they adore the gelding. Champion jockey William Buick has been booked for the spin.

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