The early signs are good for multiple Group One winning stallion U S Navy Flag, who shuttles to the Oaks Stud in Cambridge.
The regally-bred son of War Front heads a strong group of first season sires by winners in New Zealand, with six individual winners posted since February.
On Saturday, U S Navy Flag was represented by his first stakes winner when Chantilly Lace trounced her rivals in the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui, having previously been stakes-placed.
Also victorious was the Peter and Dawn Williams-trained debutant Geldof, who backed up his strong trial form with a tough win at Avondale over 1200m.
The Oaks Stud’s General Manager Rick Williams was pleased to see the young stallion notch his first Southern Hemisphere stakes winner, with To Catch A Thief and Aprillia both Group One placed, while Penvose Lad was runner-up in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1200m).
“He has been knocking on the door and I was pleased for that filly (Chantilly Lace) to get her first stakes victory,” Williams said. “She is obviously very tenacious.
“Geldof was also impressive at Avondale. We race the third horse (Antrim Coast) and have a good opinion of him.
“I had a good look at Geldof at the Te Awamutu trials and he is a gorgeous horse, with good size and scope and Warren Kennedy (jockey) was pretty bullish about him.
“It is great news for those who have supported the stallion. He has just been a bit unlucky not to crack one earlier and there are so many of them that have been stakes placed. It is a good sign.”
Debuting as an early two-year-old, U S Navy Flag was victorious in the Gr.3 Round Tower Stakes (1200m) at the Curragh before going on to win the Gr.1 Middle Park Stakes (1200m) and Gr.1 Dewhurst Stakes (1400m) at Newmarket.
In doing so, U S Navy Flag became the first horse in 35 years to land the Middle Park-Dewhurst double and he was subsequently crowned Champion Two-Year-Old in Europe, Great Britain and Ireland in 2017.
He returned at three to run second in the Gr.1 Irish 2,000 Guineas (1600m) before taking out his third Group One victory in the July Cup (1200m). He went on to be crowned Champion Three-Year-Old Sprinter in Europe, Great Britain and Ireland.
Only Per Incanto (seven winners) in season 2014-15 has sired more first crop winners in New Zealand than U S Navy Flag in recent memory.
“They seem to be getting better and every trainer I talk with says they are going to be much better three-year-olds, so let’s hope they are good judges,” Williams said.
“They have got to go on at three, which is a crucial season, but you also want sires now that can leave two-year-old winners. With the cost of horses in training, it is really important to have horses that can sire good two and three-year-olds.
“We’ve got 14 rising yearlings by U S Navy Flag and we supported him big time again last year.
“There are a few other trial winners that haven’t run yet, so he is trending in right direction.”