US Navy Flag will be chasing history in The Everest on Saturday. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
US Navy Flag will be chasing history in The Everest on Saturday. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Irish ready to plant Flag on top of Everest

TWENTY-five years ago, an Irish-trained galloper showed the rest of the world that horses could travel to Australia and not only compete, but win the Melbourne Cup.

On Saturday, the world will be watching to see if the Irish can shape the course of history again, in the $13 million The Everest at Royal Randwick.

US Navy Flag - The Everest's first international raider - has been targeted by world leading trainer, Ireland's Aidan O'Brien, to do what Vintage Crop and Dermot Weld did to the Cup in 1993.

"I have no doubt, because in many ways it already has, internationally, this could change how The Everest is viewed,'' O'Brien's travelling foreman, Andrew Murphy said.

"Once you get here you realise there's plenty of other races that you could run in and I'm certain there are other horses that could come as well.

"So I definitely think this is something that could take off.''

US Navy Flag (C, purple/white) is the first foreign raider to take on The Everest. Picture: Getty Images
US Navy Flag (C, purple/white) is the first foreign raider to take on The Everest. Picture: Getty Images

US Navy Flag, winner of the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, is also O'Brien's first Sydney runner.

"No sooner had US Navy Flag won the July Cup and Aidan said straight away, 'we're going to The Everest','' Murphy said.

"So he was looked after specifically for this race.

"And to get the horse over here, you don't bring horses out here that are going to run well.''

Based in quarantine at Canterbury for the past fortnight, Murphy said the son of War Front had settled in predictably well - despite a 28-hour journey to Sydney.

"He's a horse that is well-travelled and it's a lot easier travelling horses than it was in the past,'' Murphy said.

"You know what temperature to keep the plane at, to keep them comfortable and you just keep them well-hydrated and well-fed.''

Part of the Coolmore-slot runner's class and character is his understated manner, according to Murphy - who has worked for O'Brien for the past 18-years.

Vintage Crop, ridden by jockey Mick Kinane, wins the Melbourne Cup race at Flemington Racecourse, 02 Nov. 1993. Picture: Wayne Ludbey
Vintage Crop, ridden by jockey Mick Kinane, wins the Melbourne Cup race at Flemington Racecourse, 02 Nov. 1993. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

"He's a very, very quiet animal. He's unbelievable how quiet he is,'' Murphy said.

"There are certain horses who are highly-strung, but he's certainly a long way from highly strung.

"He has no quirks, he's actually a pleasure to do anything with.''

Murphy, whose inaugural trip to Australia was for O'Brien's first batch of Melbourne Cup runners, including Yates (2007) and Septimus, Honolulu and Alessandro Volta (2009), said he spoke to the team at home in Ballydoyle, every afternoon.

US Navy Flag has a hit out at Canterbury quarantine park on the course proper. Picture: Jenny Evans
US Navy Flag has a hit out at Canterbury quarantine park on the course proper. Picture: Jenny Evans

"We go through it all every day, how the horse is travelling and what needs to be done,'' Murphy said.

"He'll (US Navy Flag) do a bit of work on the grass on Tuesday and just keep ticking over until Saturday, which we're all very much looking forward to.''

Murphy said that although he had yet to receive official confirmation from Ballydoyle, he expected champion English jockey Ryan Moore to ride US Navy Flag.

The three-year-old is currently $10 with Ladbrokes to make history in The Everest.