The Aidan O’Brien trained Irish sprinter U S Navy Flag will fill the Coolmore slot in the 2018 version of the $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick during the Sydney Spring Carnival.
U S Navy Flag claimed his third Group 1 trophy with his all the way win in the Group 1 £500,000 Darley July Cup (6 furlongs) at Newmarket in England last Saturday.
Top line English rider Ryan Moore had no hesitation in taking U S Navy Flag (8-1) straight to the front down the middle of the straight Newmarket sprint course and the tough colt responded to hard riding from the Englishman to record a one and three quarter lengths win over Brando (14-1).
The 5-2 favourite Blue Point, with the Godolphin royal blue colours, was never in the hunt to finish seventh while the Lindsay Park trained Redkirk Warrior (11-1), representing Australia, faded at the end to wind up in tenth spot.
O’Brien said after the race that U S Navy Flag would now have a short break before preparing for The Everest and the trip to Australia.
“He’s had a tough time of it recently so to do what he did today – coming back down to a sprint from a mile – proves what a special horse he is,’’ O’Brien told reporters after the win.
“After today he needed a break because he’s had a very tough spring.
“If he went well the thought was to give him a rest and go down and train him for the Everest in Australia.’’
Coolmore Australia boss Tom Magnier said that The Everest looks a perfect race for U S Navy Flag who had been tried over longer trips during his three year old season but will now be kept to the sprinting distances.
“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.”
U S Navy Flag’s other Group 1 wins during 2017 were in the Group 1 £213,500 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes (6 furlongs) and in the Group 1 £500,000 Darley Dewhurst Stakes (7 furlongs) both at Newmarket in England.
U S Navy Flag is the first international trained sprinter to secure a slot in The Everest and will join the other seven confirmed starters for the second running of the world’s richest sprint race on turf, Trapeze Artist (Aquis, slot holder), In Her Time (TAB), Redzel (Yulong Investments), Brave Smash (Chris Waller Racing), Shoals (The Star), English (Damion Flower) and Santa Ana Lane (Inglis).
U S Navy Flag’s win in the July Cup has seen his price for The Everest firm into $9 with Ladbrokes.com.au and the colt is on the third line of betting behind Trapeze Artist at $4.50 and last year’s inaugural Everest winner Redzel at $6.
Early betting for the 2018 The Everest at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.50 Trapeze Artist, $6 Redzel, $9 U S Navy Flag, $10 In Her Time, Santa Ana Lane, $12 Kementari, $14 Shoals, $16 Vega Magic, Nature Strip, $18 English, Brave Smash, Chautauqua, $21 Winx, $26 Blue Point, Harry Angel, Menari, $31 Bound For Nowhere, Equilateral, Happy Clapper, $34 Alizee, Estijaab, Le Romain, Viddora, $41 Hot King Prawn, $51 or better the rest.