Ryan Moore achieved a first success in the Darley July Cup as he guided U S Navy Flag to an impressive all-the-way victory.
U S Navy Flag is now set to be The Everest’s first international runner as he flies the flag for Coolmore in Australia’s richest race.
Coolmore Australia boss Tom Magnier said U S Navy Flag fits the bill perfectly to take up the challenge of beating Australia’s best sprinters on their home turf.
He’s the eighth horse confirmed for the $13 million The Everest (1200m) run at Royal Randwick on October 13.
“We believe that we have an ideal candidate for the race this year in U S Navy Flag,’’ Magnier said.
“As he showed in the July Cup, he is a world-class weight for age sprinter. He has tremendous tactical speed and is a tough, competitive horse that should relish the challenge of Australian sprinting.
“Fingers crossed all goes to plan for him and he can present ready to give his best at Randwick in mid-October.
“It’s going to be an incredible race and he will add another fascinating dimension to it.”
TAB has U S Navy Flag rated an $11 chance in The Everest with Trapeze Artist ($4.50) holding favouritism.
Magnier said Coolmore is excited to be a part of The Everest, which is generating unprecedented publicity for racing across the world.
“It is an excellent initiative to promote our great sport to a broader audience, as evidenced by the inaugural running in 2017,’’ he said.
“Peter V’Landys, Laurie Macri and their respective teams at Racing NSW and the ATC deserve enormous credit for their work in developing the idea and the fact that it is already established as a focal point of the Australian racing calendar is evidence of its success.”
With only four slots remaining attention turns to whether the Australian Turf Club will hand its slot to American sprinter Bound For Nowhere, who ran third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Wesley Ward-trained sprinter is in quarantine and booked to fly to Australia later in the week with his arrival likely to force the closure of Canterbury racecourse for two weeks to allow him to complete quarantine requirements.
Ward is a huge fan of The Everest concept and has been keen to target the race since its announcement last year.
It’s planned for Bound For Nowhere to be stabled with Gai Waterhouse in the lead up to The Everest.
The three-year-old colt was one of five runners for the Ballydoyle yard of Aidan O’Brien but Moore was very much on right one – soon in the lead and never really looking like being headed in the QIPCO British Champions Series contest.
The Kevin Ryan-trained Brando, third in the July Cup last year, finished a length and three quarters behind in second with Fleet Review, another O’Brien challenger, and Sir Dancealot the next pair home.
Moore went straight to the front of the group that raced down the middle of the track and he turned all of his rivals away up the hill.
The son of War Front, winner of Middle Park Stakes and Dewhurst as a two-year-old, has been racing over a mile in recent starts but the drop back to sprinting brought out the best in him and it’s likely he will be kept at sprint trips from now on.
“What he did last year was unbelievable,” O’Brien said. “What threw us was that he was able to win a Dewhurst, after setting a strong pace and he nearly won an Irish Guineas, probably the toughest mile any horse can run, and he was absolutely out on his head in the final furlong but still kept trying, so he’s an unbelievable little horse to be doing that. He shouldn’t have been able to do that.
“We were hoping that he would put on a performance today and obviously we have our eye on the Everest Stakes in Australia, he’ll probably have a little rest now, he’s had a tough time, then we’ll train him for the Everest.
“Speed is his biggest attribute but heart is his next biggest, he never lies down and is an amazing horse.”
Ryan said of the gallant Brando: “We knew we had him in great shape and while we wanted to go to Royal Ascot, we just felt he was so good at Newmarket that we’d train it for this race and it nearly came off, didn’t it?
“It is a little bit gut-wrenching that it hasn’t, but I’m proud of him and we’ll try and win it next year.”
O’Brien also saddled the third home, Fleet Review (50/1), who was a three-quarters a length further back under Wayne Lordon.
The rider said: “I jumped well. I had a good position following Ryan [Moore, on US Navy Flag] and he took me all the way into the race. He stays well, he tries hard and he’s working his way into maybe getting a big race one day. He’s a fine horse and I’m delighted with the way he ran.”
David Elsworth was also thrilled with the run of Sir Dancealot, who was a head back in fourth under Gerald Mosse.
Elsworth said: “I wish I had a dozen like him. He’s easy to train, especially easier than some of the bad ones.”