U S Navy Flag has figured in a practice session from the barriers in a bid to reignite the sprinter’s Australian campaign in the Group One Manikato Stakes.
The Coolmore-backed Irish stable of champion trainer Aidan O’Brien will have four runners in the $1 million weight-for-age sprint.
And travelling foreman TJ Comerford says U S Navy Flag is the pick of the quartet – with one proviso.
After U S Navy Flag failed on an unsuitable wet track in the $13 million Everest, Comerford said the stable had gone back to basics since the horse’s arrival in Melbourne.
U S Navy Flag’s regime under Comerford’s care has included barrier work after the entire was slow to leave the gates in The Everest.
Under Ryan Moore, who has the ride at Manikato ride at Moonee Valley on Friday night, U S Navy Flag finished ninth to Redzel at Randwick.
He joins stablemates Spirit Of Valor, Intelligence Cross and Fleet Review for their second Australian starts in the Manikato.
U S Navy Flag and Intelligence Cross were put through a barrier session at Werribee on Monday.
“He was slightly disappointing in The Everest but he didn’t get his ground and didn’t start well,” Comerford said.
“We jumped him out of the stalls and he was very good so he should be sharp away in the Manikato.
“He probably has to pick up the pieces again, which I’m hoping he can do.”
U S Navy Flag earned his Everest slot after winning the Group One July Cup over a testing 1200m straight course in the July Cup at Newmarket in England.
The VRC Sprint at Flemington on the final day of Melbourne Cup week is on the agenda with Comerford expecting the straight 1200m to suit.
“We’ll see how he gets on going around a bend,” Comerford said.
“He’s drawn well and you have to make use of your draw.”
U S Navy Flag is the shortest priced of O’Brien’s quartet at $6.50 with Spirit Of Valor at $13. Fleet Review is $34 and Intelligence Cross the $71 outsider.
Comerford said he has U S Navy Flag ahead of Spirit Of Valor.
“But it’s easy to say that,” he said.
“Spirit Of Valor is going the best of Fleet Review and Intelligence Cross.
“He put up a good run in the Schillaci and hopefully he can get a bit of cover
“At home, he wouldn’t be as good as U S Navy Flag, but he seems to be turning the corner so I wouldn’t discount him.”
He said Fleet Review had come on since his Caulfield run while Intelligence Cross made a mess of the start that day but was back on track after his barrier hit-out.