Newmarket's Dewhurst Stakes Review
The dominant force of European Flat racing that is Aidan O’Brien was never more in evidence than at Newmarket on Saturday afternoon when the Irish maestro went one better than when saddling the first three home in last year’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly.
Sending out four of his powerful juvenile team to contest the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes O’Brien was not only responsible for the two and a half length winner US Navy Flag but the master of Ballydoyle did not stop there as his other trio also occupied second, third and fourth places, picking up prize money totalling £471,650 in the process. The remaining £20,200 going to the connections of the fifth and sixth placed horses, Cardsharp and Great Prospector.
The achievement was even more remarkable as the stable’s Gustav Klimt was expected to head the Ballydoyle challenge until suffering a season-ending injury, bringing the O’Brien ‘ reserve team ‘ to the fore. The winner became the first horse to win both the Middle Park Stakes and Dewhurst since Diesis in 1982 when Henry Cecil’s colt burst the bubble of the ‘ unbeatable ‘ Gorytus who had broken York’s track record by over a second on his debut. Facing just three rivals and sent off the 1-2 favourite at Newmarket the Dick Hern-trained juvenile trailed in a tailed-off last, leading to speculation that the horse had been ‘ nobbled ‘ although there was no evidence to support this theory.
Thirty five years later it was the turn of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Expert Eye to head into the seven furlong contest with the tag of being the season’s outstanding two-year-old following two victories, the most recent an impressive win in Goodwood’s Vintage Stakes with O’Brien’s Seahenge ( third behind US Navy Flag in Dewhurst ) a well-beaten fifth. As with Gorytus back in 1982 Expert Eye failed to beat a horse home on this occasion, with plenty of speculation being put forward regarding the 4-7 favourite’s dismal effort, of which his trainer said: “ It was just very disappointing. He was a little keen early on but even so it was disappointing. That wasn’t him.”
Regarding next year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas, US Navy Flag ( who must have been considered a 1000-1 chance for the Classic following form figures which read 4330 after his first four of ten juvenile runs ) is a standout 10-1 with Ladbrokes with stablemate Gustav Klimt heading the betting at a best price 8-1 with Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook.
"We take one race at a time" says Aidan O'Brien as he spoke to us after US Navy Flag won the Dehurst Stakes! pic.twitter.com/Y808uvIn0n— ITV Racing (@itvracing) October 14, 2017