Tag Archives: Run for the Roses

Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (G1) & Kentucky Derby (G1)

US Navy Flag on Debut at Naas last year

It’s Wednesday before the first classic of the season on Saturday, the 2000 Guineas. It might be three days away but already the forgotten horse in this field is surely US Navy Flag.

On official ratings he’s 9 lbs clear of his stablemate and current 5/2 race favourite Gustav Klimt and 2 lbs clear of his other stable companion and 5/1 second favourite Saxon Warrior yet the market puts him in as a 20/1 shot.

Granted he was beaten 15L by Gustav Klimt on his seasonal debut in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial three weeks ago but that was on heavy ground and his form of last year would suggest he has a strong chance of bridging that gap on ground that could ride good come Saturday afternoon.

He’s obviously a hardy soul having raced eleven times last year improving throughout the season. He was on the go from early May when he made his debut at Naas through to November at Del Mar where he contested the Juvenile Dirt at the Breeders Cup. He didn’t handle the surface and was well beaten there hence the change in the Ballydoyle plans where Mendelssohn became the choice for the Kentucky Derby.

Go back one run and you’ll find he was a good winner of the Dewhurst over 7f where he got the better of Mendelssohn, now joint favourite for the Kentucky Derby and prior to that he’d shown a serious turn of foot to win the Middle Park over six furlongs, the first G1 he captured.

The question is, is he a sprinter or a miler?

His debut at Naas was over 5f which proved too sharp however up to the Middle Park his runs were all then at 6f.

He’s by War Front out of Misty For Me. She got a mile and then some so you’d say he’s likely to find this mile within his compass and when asked he’d no problem in stepping up to 7f in the Dewhurst.

He has something else going for him, besides being a double G1 winner. His stable companions, who lead the betting here, have not yet encountered Newmarket’s famous dip before. It can unbalance a horse who lacks experience. Gustav Klimt did win the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket but that was over the July course and Saxon Warrior will encounter the course for the first time.

US Navy Flag on the other hand bossed both the Middle Park and Dewhurst grabbing the ground and powering out of the dip on both occasions. With the ground drying out and that crucial course experience it’s likely the 20/1 won’t last, come post time he could be a lot shorter.

A few hours later Mendelssohn will take his chance in the Run For The Roses in Kentucky. His prep run in Dubai on dirt was nothing short of stunning winning by a going away 18L and Aidan O”Brien reports him in rude health now. If he reproduces what he did in Dubai and what what he did in chasing home US Navy Flag last year in the Dewhurst he’ll be very hard to stop.

Recommendations: US Navy Flag 20/1 e/w

                                         Mendelssohn 9/2 e/w

                                           US Navy Flag, Mendelssohn  e/w double




137 th Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands

There has never been a European winner of the Kentucky in its 136 running’s.

In fact rarely have European trainers taken on the challenge. The degree of difficulty associated with preparing a horse to peak in early May on dirt after a harsh European winter is enough to put most off. Adding to the surface concerns is the issue of having to beat the best American three year olds which have been primed for the occasion.

This year that challenge is again taken on by Aidan O’Brien ten years after his first attempt with Johannesburg in 2001.

Master Of Hounds with Gareth Gomez aboard will represent Ballydoyle in John Magnier’s navy silks tonight at Churchill Downs.

His race record reads one from seven. On the face of it, that’s not encouraging though on closer inspection you can see why Aidan O’Brien would attempt such a difficult task with this horse.

The colt while missing the dartboard brings some very interesting experience into the race. As a two year old he boasted very good form with the top juveniles in Europe prior to a run in the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last November. He wasn’t beaten that far in sixth and at the tail end of the season it was a good run.

His reintroduction this year on Meydan’s tapeta surface left a very good impression when beaten a nose in the UAE Derby. You would, as is often the case with Aidan’s runners, expect an improvement from his first run of the season.

This week has seen team Ballydoyle sparkle. Since Yesterdays second in The 1000 Guineas on Sunday, he is four from four at Chester’s May meeting. St Nicholas Abbey’s victory in the Ormonde Stakes was the highlight where his devastating turn of foot last witnessed in the Racing Post Trophy returned.

Unlike Johannesburg, preparation of this colt has remained out of the limelight. There is no doubt that Master Of Hounds has been laid out for this race since his early juvenile day’s and with track experience, a proven traveller and the O’Brien camp in scintillating form you can expect a big Run for the Roses.