By Ray Hickson
It’s clear from the Coolmore camp that U S Navy Flag’s chances in the $13 million TAB Everest (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday will be dictated by the weather and track condition.
Shortly after the three time Group 1 winner completed his final gallop on a heavy Canterbury course proper, Coolmore’s Tom Magnier expressed both delight at the way the four-year-old has adapted to Sydney and concern with the fluctuating weather.
Randwick was rated a Heavy 9 on Tuesday.
“We’ve been a little bit worried about the ground with all the rain we’ve had,’’ Magnier said.
“He appeared to handle the ground this morning but we don’t want a lot more rain.’’
On his European exposure to wet tracks, U S Navy Flag is still something of a mystery as he’s had four starts on soft ground for three wins and a third but a failure on a heavy track.
Magnier said the soft track runs would be categorised as ‘good to soft’ but indicated if the track was similar to what was produced last Saturday, a Soft 7, he’d likely cope.
On Tuesday morning U S Navy Flag trotted a lap of the polytrack with Somerset Maugham before the pair worked strongly over 1000m with The Everest runner pulling away late.
In TAB’s wide open Everest market, the July Cup winner was an $11 chance pre-barrier draw behind $7 equal favourites Santa Ana Lane, Vega Magic and Trapeze Artist.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien’s foreman Andrew Murphy said U S Navy Flag is a very laid back track worker, somewhat like Aussie expat Merchant Navy who won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“He always has been a casual worker but he is a different horse when he gets to the races so Saturday should brighten him up,’’ Murphy said.
“He was a very impressive July Cup winner, he’s without doubt one of the best sprinters in Europe.’’
The question of where U S Navy Flag will race once the gates are opened is likely to become clearer after the barrier draw but Magnier expects the stallion to be on the speed.
In his July Cup win at Newmarket he charged to the lead early and made light work of the undulating track.
“He usually likes to run to the front but there is a hell of a lot more speed in races in Australia than at home in Europe,’’ he said.
“We know we have a big task ahead of us taking on the Australian horses, we know the best sprinters come from here, and we will learn a lot.
“It’s hard for anyone to get a confident read on the race, it’s more open than it was last year but that’s the excitement around it.’’
Coolmore’s number one jockey Ryan Moore is expected to arrive in Sydney on Thursday night.