US Navy Flag is likely to remain in Australia despite finishing down the field in the TAB Everest at Randwick on Saturday.
Aidan O’Brien’s charge earned himself a shot at the hugely valuable sprint with victory in the July Cup at Newmarket during the summer, but heavy rain through the week dampened expectations.
Ryan Moore’s mount missed the break from stall three and although he managed to get into a challenge position rounding the home turn, his early exertions took their toll and he faded back through the pack to finish ninth of the 12 runners.
Speaking at Newmarket on Saturday morning, O’Brien said: “The ground was soft and he missed the break. He is a good ground horse and he’ll be OK.
“We will probably leave him there now and come back down to Melbourne. There is a Group One on the same day as the Cox Plate and there is another one in Melbourne a couple of weeks after that.”
For the second year running victory in the Everest when to Redzel, trained by the father and son combination of Peter and Paul Snowden.
Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, Redzel pinged the gate and never saw another rival, with Trapeze Artist coming from out of the pack to get second in the richest race in the world on turf.
An emotional Paul Snowden told Sky Racing: “It’s a relief, it’s been a hard six weeks but to get him back on track again is satisfying.
“It was hard to try and convince people but in the last week everything has just been right. To do it again with my dad means so much.”
Although out of luck with US Navy Flag, O’Brien did enjoy big-race success at Caulfield, with Yucatan potentially earning himself a crack at the Melbourne Cup with an impressive victory in the Herbert Power Stakes under James McDonald.
The Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince Of Arran was third.
O’Brien said: “I’m delighted with Yucatan and he won very nicely.
“We were very happy with him going down there and he has had some lovely runs through the year. He had a lovely run last time at Leopardstown.
“He had a lovely bit of ground today. I think he won well and were hoping he would run a good race.
“I think we will speak to Lloyd (Williams, part-owner) and see what he wants to do and see what weight he gets, because he wouldn’t have got into the Melbourne Cup if he hadn’t of won.”
There was also good news for Saeed bin Suroor as his Benbatl won the Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes.
The Godolphin runner is being lined up for a crack at Winx in the Cox Plate and this success, under Pat Cosgrave, will raise expectations they can give the mare a race.
Bin Suroor told www.godolphin.com: “He needed this race. He has been in very good form and he will now go to the Cox Plate.
“That has given us confidence for the Cox Plate. It has been our target since January when he was in Dubai.
“But Winx is in the race, she is the best of the best. She is a superstar, I have a lot of respect for her.”
It was a one-two for Godolphin, with Charlie Appleby’s Blair House in second, while O’Brien’s Cliffs Of Moher flew home to finish just out of the places.