US Navy Flag spearheads four-pronged O'Brien attack in Dewhurst


Aidan O’Brien, who is inching ever-closer to Bobby Frankel’s record 25 top-level winners in a year, could launch a four-pronged attack on the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

Middle Park winner US Navy Flag appears likely to spearhead the challenge, and is set to be joined by Seahenge, successful in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes when last seen, while maiden winners Mendelssohn and Threeandfourpence are also being readied for the Group 1 highlight.

O’Brien, who has notched 23 Group 1s so far this year, said on Tuesday: “US Navy Flag is a very progressive horse. He's a brother to Roly Poly and there are many similarities between the two.

"We always thought he worked like a nice horse but he was just a little bit slow to learn. We were happy with him in the Middle Park – he seems to have come out of that very well, and at the moment we're contemplating running him on Saturday."

O'Brien continued: “Seahenge could join him. He was very green the first day and was a bit green again at Goodwood, but he did it well in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, where Donnacha [O’Brien] gave him a lovely ride."

Mendelssohn finished last of the seven runners behind Seahenge in the Champagne, but O’Brien has revealed the colt has been working much better in headgear since that disappointing display, and he is expecting an improved effort on Saturday.

He said: “Mendelssohn was behind Seahenge at Doncaster but Ryan [Moore] felt he banged himself a little.

"He’s a horse that’s learning and he has a good look around, but we worked him in blinkers during the week and they seemed to wake him up. There’s a possibility he'll wear a pair of blinkers, or a visor, on Saturday."

The trainer added: “Threeandfourpence won nicely at Fairyhouse and I spoke with [owner] Evie Stockwell this morning and the plan is for us to run him as well.”

Happily, successful in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly last time, has the option of the Dewhurst or bet365 Fillies’ Mile, and O’Brien and his team are leaning towards running in Friday's Group 1, declarations for which are made on Wednesday morning.

O'Brien said: “Nothing is set in stone with regards our Fillies’ Mile entries. Happily has come out of her run in France very well. September and Magical could also run.

“When there’s not a lot of space between races we like to leave the decision as late as possible.”

He added: “There's a chance that I Can Fly will run in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes on Friday, while we're thinking about running Battle Of Jericho in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes.”