A Middle Park One-Two For War Front As U S Navy Flag Prevails

By Tom Frary

By no means the most expected of the Ballydoyle quartet, US Navy Flag nevertheless emerged on top as he fought off Fleet Review to provide his sire and stable with a notable one-two and a 20th group 1 success for Aidan O’Brien in 2018. During a year in which the stable has won several decent contests with supposed second-strings, the winner upstaged his G1 Phoenix S.-winning barnmate Sioux Nation (Scat Daddy) with shades of the 25-1 success of Crusade (Mr. Greeley) in 2011. Third in the Listed Marble Hill S. on yielding-to-soft over this trip at The Curragh May 27, the bay was 14th under hold-up tactics in the G2 Coventry S. on a much slicker surface June 20 before forcing tactics were employed as he broke his maiden in first-time blinkers back on easier going at The Curragh July 1. Stepping up to be 1 3/4-lengths second to Cardsharp in the G2 July S. on the other course July 13, he was fourth behind Sioux Nation in the Phoenix back on fast summer ground in Kildare Aug. 13 before winning by six lengths in the G3 Round Tower S. over the same track and trip a fortnight later.

Chased along from the break to lead the pack racing up the centre as Hey Jonesy (Ire) (Excelebration {Ire}) took them along, U S Navy Flag kicked to gain the overall lead passing the quarter pole as the leading fancies all tried to work their way into the race from behind. There was only Fleet Review to worry him as he exited the “dip”, but hard as Donnacha O’Brien tried to conjure a winning effort from that colt he was always holding him at bay as they pulled away from the winner’s July Course conqueror Cardsharp. The 7-2 favourite Beckford (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) had no excuses and finished fifth. “It is no surprise that he ran well. I thought Ryan was the danger, but his horse is big and might be a little bit weak and this lad is out of a Galileo mare and that’s what kicked in,” Heffernan said. “He’s a horse that’s a bit gawky and looks around, so the blinkers help him focus and make the jockey’s job easier.”

Aidan O’Brien is considering running U S Navy Flag again this season. “This horse won very easily the last day. He is a very solid horse and he is a brother to Roly Poly. He is out of a Galileo mare and they just don’t give up. He takes his racing well and is progressing with every run. He is long and he is powerful. I think he will go down the sprinting route, but there is nothing to say he won’t get seven. He is a hardy horse that is progressing and when horses are like that, you can keep going with them if they want to go and I wouldn’t rule out the [Oct. 14 G1] Dewhurst with him. Seamie said he really wanted it and when he asked him, his head went out and down. It is great for everyone and there’s a lot of hard work by a great team of people.” Of Fleet Review, he added, “He ran a stormer. Donnacha wanted to ride him as he had won twice on him. He really came together. He has plenty of speed and he travelled well.”

Trainer Mark Johnston praised Cardsharp but at the same time was not convinced that he is trying his hardest. “It was another very good run. He was 14-1 which was a bit unfair as there was nothing in there that he hadn’t mixed it with before,” he said. “He has been placed in the Richmond, July Stakes, Gimcrack and now the Middle Park. Recently he has been extremely difficult beforehand. We have had him twice to the racecourse for practice sessions. It started at the July meeting and he has actually got steadily worse. The two worst ones have been here and the July meeting and he won there and was third today. I can’t say he is taking too much out of himself. It might be the opposite in fact that he is saving a bit for himself.”

U S Navy Flag becomes the third pattern-race and second group 1 winner from as many runners for Misty For Me, whose own four victories at this level included the Irish 1000 Guineas. Her first foal was the graded-stakes scorer Cover Song (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), who was followed by this year’s G1 Falmouth S. and G1 Prix Rothshild heroine Roly Poly who is another War Front on the smaller side. The second dam is the unraced Butterfly Cove, who also produced the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac heroine Ballydoyle (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and is a full-sister to the G3 1000 Guineas Trial S. scorer Kamarinskaya as well as being a half to the G1 Phoenix S. and G1 Prix Morny hero and sire Fasliyev. Their respective dam Mr. P’s Princess is in turn a half-sister to the multiple top-level scorers Desert Wine and Menifee who were both runner-up in the GI Kentucky Derby. Misty For Me’s yearling filly is also by War Front and she has a 2017 colt by the same sire again.

Saturday, Newmarket, Britain
JUDDMONTE MIDDLE PARK S.-G1, £213,500, NEW, 9-30, 2yo, c, 6fT, 1:12.44, g/s.
1–U S NAVY FLAG, 126, c, 2, by War Front
1st Dam: Misty For Me (Ire) (Hwt. 2yo Filly-Fr Ire, Hwt. 3yo-Ire at 9.5-11f, MG1SW-Ire, G1SW-Fr GISP-US, $1,124,364), by Galileo (Ire)
2nd Dam: Butterfly Cove, by Storm Cat
3rd Dam: Mr. P’s Princess, by Mr. Prospector
*1st Group 1 win. O-Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier Michael Tabor; B-Misty For Me Syndicate (KY); T-Aidan O’Brien; J-Seamus Heffernan. £121,076. Lifetime Record: GSW-Ire, 9-3-1-2, $263,736. *Full to Roly Poly, G1SW-Eng Fr, GSW G1SP-Ire, $754,251; and 1/2 to Cover Song (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), GSW-US, $122,227. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report 5-cross pedigree.2–Fleet Review, 126, c, 2, War Front–A Star Is Born (Ire), by Galileo (Ire). O-Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor Derrick Smith; B-Orpendale, Chelston Wynatt (KY); T-Aidan O’Brien. £45,903.3–Cardsharp (GB), 126, c, 2, Lonhro (Aus)–Pure Illusion (Ire), by Danehill. O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum; B-Godolphin (GB); T-Mark Johnston. £22,973.
Margins: HF, 2 1/4, HD. Odds: 10.00, 25.00, 14.00.
Also Ran: Hey Jonesy (Ire), Beckford (GB), Sioux Nation, Declarationofpeace, Danzan (Ire), Unfortunately (Ire), Frozen Angel (Ire), Rajasinghe (Ire), Sands of Mali (Fr). Click for the Racing Post result or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


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