US Navy Flag led his rivals a merry dance in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes as Aidan O’Brien saddled the first four home in the Group One at Newmarket.
The Ballydoyle colt was a 5-1 shot to secure a second Group One on the bounce following his Middle Park Stakes triumph a fortnight ago.
Ryan Moore controlled the pace from the front before kicking for home and U S Navy Flag readily brushed aside his opponents to claim an impressive two-and-a-half-length victory.
Stablemates Mendelssohn, Seahenge and Threeandfourpence finished second, third and fourth respectively.
US Navy Flag provided O’Brien with a 24th top-flight success of 2016, leaving him just one short of the record set by American trainer Bobby Frankel in 2003.
Moore told ITV Racing: “He’s been a remarkable horse. From the middle of the summer we’ve started to work him out.
“He’s very tough. I thought it was going to be a very good Dewhurst.
“To win a Middle Park and then to come and win a Dewhurst is great and he was strong at the line.
“It’s a massive feat again, what Aidan has done.”
US Navy Flag is a full-sister to Roly Poly, who secured her third successive top-level win in last weekend’s Sun Chariot Stakes.
“They’re amazingly similar,” Moore added.
“Neither of them are the biggest, but they’ll both give you absolutely everything. This lad would have a little more substance about him.
“They both seem to keep getting better every time they come to the track.”
US Navy Flag always appeared to have matters in hand and travelled strongly against the rail under Moore.
The previously unbeaten 4-7 favourite Expert Eye was always in his slipstream, but was notably keen in the hands of Andrea Atzeni.
While US Navy Flag powered clear, pursued by three stablemates, Expert Eye dropped back through the field and finished last of nine runners.
O’Brien said of the winner: “He is a very good Middle Park winner and I think he was overlooked a bit.
“It unusual and rare (for a horse to win the Middle Park and the Dewhurst).
“I suppose we’re lucky to have a colt who has pace enough for six (furlongs) and it looks as though he’s a good chance of getting a mile.”
Regarding future plans, the trainer added: “He would have America (Breeders’ Cup), but I don’t know.
“We will see how he is. He is certainly very happy with what he is doing. It’s exciting.”
Asked about the record, O’Brien said: “It would be massive for everyone, but we don’t think about it as a long-term thing.
“We take every horse and each race at a time but it would be a massive achievement for everybody.”
Expert Eye’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute said: “It was just very disappointing.
“He was a little keen early on, but even so it was disappointing. That was not him.”
Thankful Joseph O’Brien issues positive bulletin on sister Ana
Fractured vertebrae and facial injuries but brain scan is clear
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Trainer Joseph O’Brien issued a statement on Wednesday night on behalf of the O’Brien family in which he struck a positive note over the serious injuries sustained by his sister Ana at Killarney the previous evening.
Detailing Ana’s injuries, he said: “Ana is feeling much better today, thank God. She had an MRI [scan] this morning that confirmed three vertebral fractures at C1, T5 and T6. Her facial fractures will be assessed in the coming days.
“Thankfully we don’t think she’s going to need any surgery and is going to be treated with a neck and back brace instead. She would like to thank everybody for all their kind thoughts and prayers.”
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He continued: “Ana would also like to thank the brilliant work provided by Dr Adrian McGoldrick and the racecourse medical officers, the Order of Malta, the veterinary team, the ground staff led by Val O’Connell, Mr Peter Murchan, the air medical crew, Professor Paul Redmond and the brilliant team at Cork University Hospital for all their incredible care.”
While the rider could be out of action until November – emphasising the seriousness of her injuries – the most welcome news is that a brain scan on the 21-year-old has revealed no issues.
Turf Club medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick said: “The brain scan is clear, which is very, very good news.
“I’ve spoken with Professor Paul Redmond, the professor of surgery at CUH, and the MRI scans that were carried out on Ana this morning revealed that surgery won’t be required. That is very positive news.”
He added: “I would imagine Ana will remain in hospital for another few days. She’s very upset and it’s been an awful ordeal for her. She’ll be fine, though. She’s likely to be out of action for three to four months. She’s amazing.”
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O’Brien has had 18 winners this season and went down to the start for the mile rated race at Killarney hoping Druids Cross would provide her with a 19th.
She was asking her mount to quicken and go after all-the-way winner Secret Wizard passing the two-furlong pole when St Gallen, ridden by Shane Foley, bumped into the three-year-old colt, who instantly lost his footing and sent O’Brien crashing to the turf, which was officially good, good to firm in places. Druids Cross sadly suffered fatal injuries in the incident.
O’Brien was quickly attended to by the medical staff on duty, who included McGoldrick, and an air ambulance arrived over an hour and a half later to airlift her to Cork University Hospital. The helicopter was clapped away by the anxious Killarney crowd.
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Sheila Lavery, who sent out Secret Wizard to win the race, was speaking for everyone when saying: “The victory of Secret Wizard pales into insignificance and, while it’s great to win a race, I’d give it back as long as Ana is okay. All that really matters is Ana.”
The stewards were unable to hold an inquiry into the incident because of O’Brien’s injuries and her unavailability to give evidence. The matter was passed on to the Turf Club to be dealt with at a later date.