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Sea Bird II

Sea Bird II
Sire Dan Cupid
Dam Sicalade
Grandsire Native Dancer
Damsire Sicambre
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1962
Country France
Color Chestnut
Breeder Jean Ternynck
Owner Jean Ternynck, Racing colours: Dark green, black cap.
Trainer Etienne Pollet
Record 8: 7-1-0
Earnings $646,906
Sea Bird II is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Sicalade by Dan Cupid. He was born around 1962 in France, and was bred by Jean Ternynck.
Major wins
Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte (1964)
Prix Greffulhe (1965)
Prix Lupin (1965)
Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (1965)
Epsom Derby (1965)
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (1965)
French Horse Racing Hall of Fame
Timeform rating: 145
(Highest ever given over flat)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on January 4, 2007

Sea Bird II (1962-1973) is considered by many to be the greatest post-war European flat racehorse. His Timeform rating of 145 is still the highest ever flat figure awarded by that publication.

Owned and bred at the stables of Lille textile manufacturer Jean Ternynck, Sea Bird II is most famous for his breathtaking victories in two of Europe's most prestigious races: the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He was by the French Derby runner-up Dan Cupid, and trained, like his sire, in France by Etienne Pollet. Amazingly, his five immediate dams never won a flat race among them.

He had just three races as a two-year-old, winning two (including the Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte). He met with the only defeat of his career in the Grand Critérium when second to his stablemate Grey Dawn.

As a three-year-old he won all five races he contested. He started the season with an effortless three lengths win in the Prix Greffulhe, followed by a six lengths romp over Diatome in the Prix Lupin. Then came a devastating run in the Epsom Derby. Starting at generous odds of 7/4, he won on the bridle by a very easy two lengths from Meadow Court, who went on to win the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a victory that marked him out as one of the very best Derby winners in living memory.[1]

Sea Bird II had his preparatory race for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, in which he sauntered to win by two and a half lengths. In the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, he faced an incredibly strong field, including Meadow Court, Preakness winner Tom Rolfe, French Derby winner Reliance, and Russian Derby winner Anilin. Starting at odds of 6/5, Sea Bird II destroyed the opposition in a stunning rout, despite veering across the track with jockey Pat Glennon patting him down the neck in the final 100 yards, by six lengths (though photographs of the finish show it to have been closer to four and a half lengths) from Reliance. Five lengths further back in third was Diatome, who would go on to win the Washington, D.C. International; fifth was Anilin, and sixth was Tom Rolfe.

Prior to the running of his final race, the American breeder John W. Galbreath paid owner Jean Ternynck a reported $1,350,000 to lease Sea Bird II for five years' stud duty at his Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky. Among Sea Bird II's progeny were the dual French classic and 1974 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winning mare Allez France (who had a Timeform rating of 136, making her still, according to that publication, the highest ever rated middle distance racemare); the 1974 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Little Current; the Champion Hurdle winner Sea Pigeon; and Gyr, second in the 1970 Epsom Derby behind the English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky II. Sea Bird II sired the dams of King's Swan, who was known as the "King of Aqueduct", Miss Oceana, a millionaire in racing who sold as a broodmare for a world record US$7 million, and the half brothers Assert, the French Derby and Irish Derby winner, and Bikala, who won the French Derby. He was also the grandsire (through his son Arctic Tern) of the French Derby winner Bering.

Pedigree of Sea Bird II
Dan Cupid
Native Dancer Polynesian Unbreakable
Black Polly
Geisha Discovery
Vixenette Sickle Phalaris
Lady Reynard Gallant Fox
Sicambre Prince Bio Prince Rose
Sif Rialto
Marmelade Maurepas Aethelstan
Couleur Biribi
Colour Bar


  • Great Racehorses of the World, Roger Mortimer and Peter Willett, Michael Joseph 1969, p.221-225.


  1. Lee McKenzie Six of the Epsom best, BBC, 30 May, 2002


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