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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

US Navy Flag wins Dewhurst Stakes to take Aiden O'Brien one closer to Bobby Frankel's Group 1 record

With Ryan Moore aboard US Navy Flag led from start to finish to win impressively by two and-a-half lengths setting a new course record in the process

Ryan Moore riding US Navy Flag wins theDewhurst Stakes at Newmarket racecourse. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Ryan Moore riding US Navy Flag wins theDewhurst Stakes at Newmarket racecourse. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

Aidan O’Brien is just one shy of equalling the record of American trainer Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group 1 wins in a season after US Navy Flag won the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

The Irishman dominated the race, saddling the first four home in the nine-runner field.

With Ryan Moore aboard US Navy Flag led from start to finish to win impressively by two and-a-half lengths setting a new course record in the process.

US Navy Flag clocked the 1,400-metre distance in 1 minute 22.37 seconds shaving off Frankel’s record by 0.2 seconds to finish ahead of stablemates Mendelssohn, Seahenge and Threeandfourpence.

In crossing the finish line first the colt became the first horse to win the Dewhurst and Middle Park double since Diesis achieved the same feat 35 years ago.

“He’s been a remarkable horse,” Moore said. “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.”

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O’Brien has now won the Dewhurst six times and US Navy Flag made it three in-a-row for the Irishman.

“He is a tough solid horse blessed with plenty of tactical speed,” the Ballydoyle trainer said.

“He doesn't have to lead and Ryan was happy not to lead but was left there. It is rare and we are lucky to have a good colt like him who has the speed for six furlongs but looks like he has a good chance of getting a mile, it is exciting.”

O’Brien, as usual, was coy about closing in on Frankels' Group 1 record..

“It would be massive everyone, but we don’t think about it as a long-term thing,” he said.

“There are hundreds of people in the team and it's a big team effort. We'd be very honoured to do it, but we'll take one day at a time.

“We take every horse and each race at a time but it would be a massive achievement for everybody.”

John Gosden, the two-time British champion trainer, has no doubt O’Brien will surpass Frankel’s record.

“Aidan is well and truly lined up to do it,” he said. “He can achieve it on Champions Day, or at the Breeders’ Cup, I’m sure we might all meet up in a Group 1 at Saint-Cloud [in November]. He’ll get the job done, don’t worry about that. What an achievement.”