O'Brien could fly Classic 'Flag' in 2018
Flag Of Honour emerged as a potential Derby horse for 2018 when routing his rivals at Naas yesterday.
The son of Galileo, which met traffic on debut, was sent off at 4/6 under Seamus Heffernan and powered away for a four-and-a-half-length win.
"He was very green here last week. I couldn't believe he was so short (a price) but he's won like a favourite should win. He's a little bit nervy but he has an engine," Heffernan said afterwards.
Most eyes were on the gripping title battle between Pat Smullen, the champion, and Colin Keane, the leader. Keane kept up a superb recent run by taking the fillies' maiden aboard 2/1 Who's Steph for boss Ger Lyons. However, a double for Smullen means that the gap is back to four, London Icon taking the auction maiden at 9/10 for Adrian Keatley, before which the rider was successful aboard 15/8f and sprint maiden winner Aurora Eclipse for Michael O'Callaghan.
Trainer John Murtagh (7/1 Mister Magic and 6/1 Yolo Star) also enjoyed a double on a wet afternoon.
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Flag Of Honour was another winner for Aidan O'Brien and Coolmore. It appears that the sales stand-off between the mega power and Sheikh Mohammed is truly over, as a Dubawi colt went to MV Magnier, son of Coolmore supremo John, yesterday. Dubawi is the top stallion of the Sheikh's Darley Stud. The colt sold for 2m guineas and is out of Sky Lantern, the 1,000 Guineas winner of 2013. While not the first Dubawi-bred Coolmore has bought, it has been an extremely rare occurrence.
In late-September, a filly by Galileo went to Godolphin for €1.2 million and a 12-year rift between Europe's biggest racing and bloodstock operations seemingly drew to a close.
A dozen horses have sold for more than £1m at Tattersalls this week, beating the record of nine set last year - and with a day to spare too.