GBI RACING

US Navy Flag set for Curragh recovery mission

U S Navy Flag on his way to winning last season’s Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket (Julian Herbert/PA)

US Navy Flag could head for the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh following his “inconclusive” run in Sunday’s French equivalent at ParisLongchamp.

Last season’s Middle Park and Dewhurst hero made much of the running in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, but stumbled rounding the home bend and after meeting interference in the final furlong, passed the post in fifth place.

Several jockeys subsequently voiced their concerns about the condition of the ground, which led to a 30-minute delay to the French 1000 Guineas and a change of course, but O’Brien is keen to move on.

He said: “We were happy with his run, considering what happened. We didn’t say anything when he came in at all, but these things happen.

“We went there to see about the mile, but it was a little bit inconclusive.

“He might come back to the Irish Guineas if the ground is nice, then we could look at (Royal Ascot).

“The Irish Guineas will tell us whether we go sprinting or stay at a mile.”

US Navy Flag is likely to be joined in the Irish Guineas by stablemate Gustav Klimt.

The Galileo colt could only finish sixth behind Saxon Warrior in the Newmarket Guineas and O’Brien hopes he can raise his game at the Curragh on Saturday week.

O’Brien said: “We thought he would run a better race than he did (at Newmarket), but he still ran a good race and we were very happy with him.

“It could have been that he ran in Leopardstown (on his reappearance) in very heavy ground and it took a bit more out of him than we thought. In the Guineas he raced a bit behind the bridle rather than the other way when he can be on it.

“He is very well now and his work is very good so he is going to go back to the Irish 2,000 Guineas.”

Australian Group One winner Merchant Navy is an exciting addition to the three-year-old ranks at Ballydoyle and is being prepared for an appearance at Royal Ascot next month.

“He is in good form and he is getting ready to go to Ascot,” said O’Brien.

“We’ve not had him too long and he might have a run on Irish Guineas weekend. If not he will work around that time and go straight to Ascot for the Diamond Jubilee.

“We are happy with him so far. He has a lovely relaxed way of moving and has a lovely mind, which is always a bit of an advantage for a sprinter.

“He is going to be here for Ascot, but I’m not sure if he can be here for the July Cup as he has stallion obligations in Australia and has to be back in time to start for that.”

O’Brien confirmed last week’s Ormonde Stakes winner Idaho a likely runner in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on June 1 and also revealed plans for recent Mooresbridge Stakes winner Cliffs Of Moher and dual Group One-winning filly Hydrangea.

He said: “Hydrangea is in good shape and is nearly ready to start. She might start in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but only for a run. She will be trying her best, but I’d say there will be drastic improvement from it.

“We are just thinking with Cliffs Of Moher whether we go the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Coronation Cup.

“Obviously his best run was in Derby (finished second), but we were happy with him the last day.

“Speaking to Ryan (Moore) on Sunday he said don’t rule out the Coronation yet.”

Sioux Nation “will have a run somewhere” before lining up in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

The Ballydoyle juvenile team being considered for the Royal meeting includes last month’s runaway Navan scorer Sergei Prokofiev.

O’Brien said: “The plan is to run him again. It could be at Naas over six furlongs or the Curragh over five.

“He will then race in either the Coventry or one of the five-furlong races at Royal Ascot.”

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