By Ray Hickson
Preparations for U S Navy Flag to tackle The Everest will be ramped up near the end of the month after Coolmore’s star sprinter completes some R&R following his July Cup win.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has confirmed plans for the three-time Group 1 winner to enter quarantine early in September and he’s expected to arrive in Sydney around September 22.
“U S Navy Flag came out of the July Cup very well and is still on target for The Everest,’’ O’Brien said.
“We are very happy with him.’’
U S Navy Flag earned his spot as Coolmore’s nomination for the $13 million The Everest (1200m) with his dashing win in the July Cup at Newmarket on July 14.
It’s a testing, undulating, course but the four-year-old led basically throughout under Coolmore’s number one rider Ryan Moore.
Because of a busy campaign, which included three attempts at a mile, O’Brien said U S Navy Flag needed a short time to freshen up before he enters quarantine.
“He had a tough first half of the season so we have given him a little break after the July Cup,’’ he said.
“The plan is for him to probably have a racecourse gallop as a lead up to The Everest and he will run in the race straight out of quarantine.”
That crucial gallop will be at a race meeting in Ireland around the end of August.
U S Navy Flag is The Everest’s first international runner, in 2017 Coolmore’s home bred filly Tulip finished fifth in the inaugural running.
Who rides U S Navy Flag in The Everest at Royal Randwick on October 13 is yet to be confirmed but it would be a coup if the Australian Turf Club can lure both O’Brien and Moore to Sydney for the race.
Whether Coolmore brings other horses to Sydney to run in support races like the Group 3 $500,000 Craven Plate (2000m) and $500,000 St Leger (2600m) is yet to be confirmed.
TAB has U S Navy Flag on the $15 line in its All-in market for The Everest.
Long time favourite Trapeze Artist ($4.50) had his first barrier trial of his Everest campaign at Rosehill on Tuesday and pleased trainer Gerald Ryan running fifth, beaten 0.7 lengths, in a 900m heat.
The four-year-old, who Ryan says has put on some 25kg in his break, didn’t carry blinkers in the trial.
“That’s all I wanted him to do. He’s still got a fair way to go, four weeks Saturday until the race, and it was his first fair dinkum hitout,’’ Ryan said.
Trapeze Artist is due to resume in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill on September 8 and he’ll have a second trial – probably with his blinkers on.
“I just wanted him to have a nice time then get serious in a fortnight,’’ he said.
“His work has been a bit better this time in, I was getting a bit worried because he was working too well for him then Saturday morning he did what he normally does.’’