Horses To Follow » U S Navy Flag

U S Navy Flag

U S Navy Flag also put up a big performance in finishing second to Romanised in the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Sent to the front from flagfall by Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien’s horse travelled easily in the lead. He was not given an easy time of it by Elarqam, who raced up just behind the leader on the inside through the early stages of the race, until he started to fade as they passed the 4f marker. Left in front on his own at that stage, the son of War Front kicked at the 2f marker and immediately took a couple of lengths out of his field in the style of a high-class individual. He looked the most likely winner at that point, and he still looked set for victory as they raced to the 1f pole, but Romanised finished best of all on the near side and wore him down. It was a big performance by Ken Condon’s horse, but it was a big run by U S Navy Flag, who kept on all the way to the line to retain second place, over 1l clear of his stable companion Gustav Klimt in third.

The U S Navy Flag story thus far is a rare story. The Ballydoyle colt raced no fewer than 11 times last season as a juvenile, and he improved with just about every run until he disappointed on dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Winner of the Middle Park Stakes and the Dewhurst last season, he has started off this season similarly, improving from run to run, from his debut at Leopardstown in April, to finishing a close-up fifth in the French 2000 Guineas, to finishing second in the Irish 2000 Guineas. It is reasonable to expect that he will improve again next time.

You can argue that 7f might turn out to be his optimum trip this season, but he is also top class over 1m, and you can also understand why Aidan O’Brien appears to be favouring the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes over the Group 3 Jersey Stakes as his Royal Ascot target, given that he is already a dual Group 1 winner. He should be a big player in the St James’s Palace Stakes too if he takes his chance in it. Apparently at his best when he races from the front, the fact that the St James’s Palace Stakes is run over the round mile as opposed to the straight mile is significant. U S Navy Flag remains a top class individual, and it may be that he will be under-rated next time on the back of his Irish Guineas defeat.

The Curragh, 26th May 2018