William Haggas pays tribute to Irish Oaks winner and 'best filly' Sea Of Class

Racing is mourning the loss of one of the best fillies it has seen since the turn of the century after Sea Of Class died on Monday following complications arising from colic surgery.

Last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up and Irish Oaks winner was initially giving signs that she would recover from the colic surgery she underwent on July 3 and be saved for a stud career, but the discovery of a second tumour forced connections into a heart-wrenching decision. 

The daughter of Sea The Stars, who also won the Yorkshire Oaks and over £1.5 million in prize money, is best remembered for her unlucky second to Enable at Longchamp last year and was fancied by many to turn the tables in October.

Sea Of Class ran only once as a four-year-old when finishing fifth in this year's Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot this year.

Sea Of Class cantering down at Royal Ascot, photo Liesl King

Haggas said: "The reason for colic surgery on Sea Of Class in the first place was to remove an abdominal mass sitting between the spleen and liver which had intertwined with her gut. That mass was removed and some of the gut taken out.

"However, the mass turned out to be a malignant tumour known as a lymphoma. Her surgeon Richard Payne and specialist Celia Marr warned us that lymphomas can be aggressive and so it proved."

He added of his stablestar: "Having made sure and steady progress under the excellent veterinary team at Rossdale's she took a turn for the worse at 4.30am this morning and a subsequent scan revealed another tumour the size of an orange.

"Despite regular scans during her convalescence, this was the first sign of an abnormality. She was quiet and uncomfortable today, and quite weak, and the decision to put her to sleep was then taken unanimously by her team of experts, Maureen and I.

"Owner Mrs Tsui has been in full support of all decisions taken and she, her family and advisors are all devastated. For all of us here, we mourn the loss of the best filly we had anything to do with but will cherish the memories forever."

Sea Of Class began her career at Newmarket in April last year, finishing second in a mile maiden.

She got off the mark in a Listed event on Lockinge day at Newbury, but connections resisted the temptation of going for the Investec Oaks – a race Haggas' filly was well fancied for.

Instead, she headed back to Newbury for another Listed race before scoring by a neck in the Irish Oaks under a late drive from James Doyle, who rode her on all seven of her starts.

The pair followed up in style in the Yorkshire Oaks at the expense of Coronet before giving recent Coral-Eclipse heroine Enable a mighty scare in the Arc.

Doyle said: "It's so sad for all at Somerville Lodge and the Tsui family. Obviously the vets, William and Maureen had kept me up to date and I'd been to see her a few times. Initially she was going well but obviously there was a complication but at least she's not suffering now, bless her."

Recalling the best of their days together, the jockey said: "I suppose most of all I really enjoyed her win in the Irish Oaks when we came from last to first and just toyed with them. That was pretty special."