Downey Appointed as General Manager of Valachi Downs

Kevin and Joanna Hickman have today announced the appointment of Gareth Downey to the role of General Manager at Valachi Downs.

Gareth joined the stud in mid-2018 as their breeding consultant, principally a role focussed on the management of the stud’s standing stallions, US Navy Flag, Zacinto and Savile Row, as well as pedigree analysis and matings advice for the stud’s broodmare band and clients.

Kevin and Joanna commented that, “We have been impressed with Gareth’s in-depth knowledge of our business and the natural leadership he brings from his past management roles in both this and other industries.  We believe Gareth is the right person to help us progress our ultimate aspirations of breeding and racing high quality athletes, as well as leading a team where the culture is an important reflection of our personal values.”

Downey stated, “I feel privileged to be given this opportunity to lead a stud as progressive as Valachi Downs and its outstanding team of people. Working for the Hickmans is an honour and I am confident I can apply my experience both in and outside of this industry, to support Valachi in reaching its goals.”

Thoroughbred Stud Opportunity - General Manager of Valachi Downs
Matamata, New Zealand, Full time

Valachi Downs is a thoroughbred stud based in Matamata, located in the heart of one of New Zealand’s finest thoroughbred nurseries.

The business proudly seeks to breed, educate, sell and race elite thoroughbreds. The stud operates on over 600 acres and operations cover the full spectrum of breeding, pre-training and racing activities including ownership of its own private training property. 

The business is now seeking to fill the position of General Manager to oversee all aspects of its business. Significant responsibilities include:

  • Providing input to the strategic direction of the stud
  • Leading the management team and a staff of 30+ employees
  • Managing the breeding programme of 100+ mares
  • Overseeing a stallion business with 3 standing stallions
  • Directing yearling, ready to run and other sales
  • Managing the farming operations of a working stud
  • Providing commercial and financial oversight
  • Communicating with industry partners and business owners

The successful candidate will have significant industry and leadership experience.

Interested persons should direct any enquiries and send their applications and CV to Kelly by email at by 14 March 2020.


Valachi doffs cap to Baggy Green

Broodmare prospects by champion stallion Galileo (Ire) are prized commodities and a private purchase by Valachi Downs a few years ago has proved to be a blue chip investment for Kevin Hickman’s nursery.

He bought Baggy Green from Curraghmore’s Gordon Cunningham and subsequent events now make that deal one of the smartest pieces of business Valachi has completed.

Soon after changing hands, the mare’s half-sister Youngstar (High Chaparral {Ire}) won the G1 Queensland Oaks off the back of victory in the G2 The Roses and she is also a multiple Group 1 placegetter for Chris Waller.

This season has also seen the emergence of another half-sister from the champion trainer’s stable in Funstar (Adelaide {Ire}), who claimed the G1 Flight S. after also winning the G2 Tea Rose S. with the promise of much more from the high-class filly.

And at Caulfield on Saturday, Baggy Green’s daughter Tofane (NZ) (Ocean Park {NZ}) was successful for Michael Moroney in the G3 Bass Strait Beed Steaks S.

“When we bought the mare she had nothing. We just bought her because we wanted a Galileo,” Valachi manager Jonathan Scully said.

“Not long after we got her Youngstar came out, and now Funstar, and I had seen Tofane win at the Te Teko trials and she blew me away. She was a hell of a type and she looks like Group 1 material as well.”

Tofane was given her early education at the Matamata arm of Moroney’s operation under the guidance of Pam Gerard and the mare was subsequently purchased by the trainer and stable clients. She has now won three of her seven starts.

“We bought Baggy Green off Gordy and she ended up being in foal to Pins and we’ve got a Reliable Man colt and still undecided where he will go,” Scully said.

“It will either be Book 1 at Karaka or Easter or Melbourne and she’s in foal to Ocean Park again. She’s dry and didn’t have a foal this year and we’d love to get a filly out of the mare now.

“We won’t quote the numbers, but I negotiated the deal and got her a little bit cheaper than what Gordy wanted to sell her for.

“Then Kevin turned around and told me not to be so miserable and go back and give him what he wanted because it had to be a win-win for everyone. She’s one hell of a buy now and very, very valuable.

“There’s nothing like having a mare like Baggy Green and then having a family that’s on fire. There aren’t many of them around.”

Baggy Green, who was successful once at 1600 metres, is out of Starspangled (Ire) (Danehill {USA}), also a minor winner, and her dam is the former champion European 3-year-old User Friendly (GB) (Slip Anchor {GB}).

She won at Group 1 level in the English, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks, the St Leger and in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and has also produced Starspangledbanner’s dual Group 3 winning sister Downtown (Ire).

“We had a good day with Tofane winning and Secret Allure, by Zacinto, so we had a couple of Group winners within a couple of hours,” Scully said. “Kevin gets as much joy out of that as racing them himself. It’s just as big a buzz.”

Zacinto (GB) stands at Valachi alongside Savile Row (NZ) and the popular newcomer U S Navy Flag (USA) and his daughter Secret Allure (NZ) doubled her Group 3 tally when last season’s Desert Gold S. winner was successful in the Taranaki Breeders S.

The Lisa Latta-trained 4-year-old’s main spring aim is the G2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile during New Zealand Cup week. She is the only winner so far for Secret Scent (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) and was bred by Gus Wigley of Inglewood Stud, where Zacinto began his career.

Written by Paul Vettise for TDN AusNZ

U S Navy Flag’s versatile pedigree drawcard for breeders

Among the new sires to the New Zealand breeding industry this season is the best son of War Front, Champion Sprinter U S Navy Flag (USA), who has joined the roster at Valachi Downs.

The three-time Group 1 winner is the epitome of the Danzig-line sprinter, renowned for colossal speed and precocity on the racetrack and evidenced by the countless Group 1-winning descendants.

With U S Navy Flag’s prominent sire line currently being continued through his sire War Front (USA), the sire of 85 stakes winners to date, it is interesting to look at what sire lines complement this sire line and have already proven to work well.

War Front’s best nick is with Danehill Dancer (IRE) where two Group 1 winners have emerged from just 10 runners. Brave Anna (USA) won the Newmarket Cheveley Park Stakes while her full brother Hit it a Bomb (USA) claimed victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Danehill Dancer’s line lives on through his sire sons and two of those who are popular to the southern hemisphere are Choisir (AUS) and Mastercraftsman (IRE). Choisir is the sire of 11 individual Group 1 winners in both hemispheres, including Olympic Glory (IRE) and Starspangledbanner (AUS), while Mastercraftsman has sired 13 international Group 1 winners, including recently crowned New Zealand Champion Middle Distance Horse Danzdanzdance (AUS) and Thee Auld Floozie.

This particular line opens up a good number of the broodmare population, with any Choisir or Mastercraftsman mare a lovely cross for U S Navy Flag.

Similarly to Danehill Dancer, Be My Guest (USA) is another branch of Northern Dancer and has produced two Group 1 winners from 23 runners who carry the combination with War Front.

New Zealand breeders would be familiar with his sire son, the great Pentire (GB), who produced New Zealand Horse of the Year (King) Mufhasa and Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance among his 16-strong contingent of individual Group 1 winners. 

Known Fact (USA) also nicks well with War Front having produced two Group 1 winners from 16 runners. Lancaster Bomber (USA) won the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Data Link (USA) succeeded in the Keeneland Mile Stakes.

Former Haunui Farm shuttle sire Showcasing (GB) descends from Known Fact through his dam line and has been a dominant force in the New Zealand juvenile scene topping the Leading 2YO Sire by Winners list the last four consecutive seasons.

A particularly successful nick is with War Front and Red Ransom (USA) where two Group 1 winners have been produced from 39 runners in Dewhurst Stakes winner War Command (USA) and Homesman (USA), and with 25% stakes winners to runners this sire line is another option that breeders should consider for U S Navy Flag.

Red Ransom’s line has continued through his sire sons including Roc de Cambes, sire of Group 1 Toorak Handicap winner (He’s) Our Rokkii and Group 1 New Zealand Derby winner Vin de Dance. Therefore, any mares from Roc de Cambes would cross well.

Strong figures have also been found when Woodman (USA) is combined with War Front. Dual Group 1 winner Avenge (USA) and Group 1 French galloper Olmedo (FR) headline the 46 runners bred on this cross.

Perfectly Ready (AUS) is a descendant from Woodman through his sire line and the Leading New Zealand First Season Sire has since gone on to sire Group 1 Telegraph Handicap winner Signify. He has a good string of broodmare daughters that should complement U S Navy Flag.

Providing even further diversity to the sires that have crossed well with War Front is Seeking The Gold (USA). A Champion 2YO Colt in Europe and Ireland, Air Force Blue (USA) won the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, National Stakes and Phoenix Stakes, while Fog of War (USA) and Omaha Beach (USA) also scored at the highest level.

Seeking the Gold is prevalent in New Zealand through his great grandson Makfi (GB) and grandson Swiss Ace (AUS). Three-time Group 1 winner Bonneval, who was voted New Zealand Horse of the Year among several other awards, is one of four Group 1-winning progeny by shuttle sire Makfi who now stands in Japan, while Swiss Ace has sired four Group 1 performers and Group 2 winners Swissta.

Excitingly for New Zealand and Australian breeders, U S Navy Flag is free of Danehill (USA) and Zabeel, making way for a versatile pedigree that will suit a large selection of mares.

Granddaughters of Danehill have already shown success with Group winners Fun Fact (AUS) and Vigor Winner (AUS) bred to U S Navy Flag’s sire line.

Contact Gareth Downey on 027 205 6687 or email to discuss your mating plans.

U S Navy Flag’s profile reinforced by exquisite damline

The history-making racing profile of champion sprinter U S Navy Flag (USA) (War Front) is backed by a bluechip pedigree and exquisite damline rich with international bluebloods, bolstering his appeal as he begins his new stud career at Valachi Downs this season.

A son of Group 1 winner Misty for Me (IRE), the Galileo (IRE) mare notched up back-to-back Group 1 wins at two while adding a further two Group 1 scores to her record at three. She was crowned Champion 2YO Filly in France and Ireland and Champion 3YO Filly in Ireland.

Galileo’s influence is not only felt as a sire but also as a broodmare sire with his daughters producing 143 stakes winners including 27 individual Group 1 winners. He was the leading broodmare sire in Ireland, and second-leading broodmare sire in Great Britain, in 2018. He was also among the top six in Australia last season, thanks to the likes of Group 1 winners The Autumn Sun, Invincibella and Winning Ways.

Misty for Me is among his best producing mares, having passed her speed and precocity to her progeny with U S Navy Flag one of three Group-winning offspring.

Her first foal Cover Song (USA) was a Group 3 winner by Fastnet Rock, while her second foal Roly Poly (USA), a full brother to U S Navy Flag, was the winner of three Group 1 features at three.

With Roly Poly and U S Navy Flag both trained by Aidan O’Brien, the duo were stablemates at the time of the latter’s Group 1 Middle Park-Dewhurst double victory. U S Navy Flag completed the Newmarket Triple Crown when adding the Group 1 July Cup at three, while at the same time emulating his dam’s status of being titled a champion at both two and three.

Like Misty for Me, her dam Butterfly Cove (USA) is also by a dominant sire of his generation in Storm Cat (USA). He had a long reign as the leading broodmare sire in America up until 2013 and still remains among the top 10 today with 284 stakes winners. Highlighting the dominance and quality of his genetic influence, these stakes winners have included no less than 43 individual Group 1 winners.

While Butterfly Cove was unraced, her pedigree is rich in black-type so it wasn’t surprising that she produced three stakes winners.

In addition to the aforementioned Misty for Me, Butterfly Cove produced Group 1 winner and Champion 2YO Filly in France, Ballydoyle (IRE), as well as stakes winner Twirl (IRE). All three stakes-winning fillies are by Galileo, proving a very successful cross.

U S Navy Flag’s third generation dam Mr. P’s Princess (USA) upholds the exceptional damline, being the producer of Champion 2YO in Europe Fasliyev (USA). The dual Group 1 winner is a half-brother to Group 3 winner Kamarinskaya (USA) who is also by Storm Cat, making her a full sister to Butterfly Cove.

Mr. P’s Princess has had just 45 runners descend from her to date, with five achieving Group 1 success, showing the depth and quality of this female family.

Although many decades have passed since the birth of Mr. P’s Princess’ sire Mr. Prospector, his line is enduring and continues to enrich bloodstock around the globe. Through his daughters, he is the broodmare sire of 381 stakes winners including 46 individual Group 1 winners.

With these generations of genetic power built up in the pedigree of U S Navy Flag, he presents breeders with a wonderful opportunity to access this strength and utilise it in their mating plans this year.



Q & A with Jonathan Scully, Valachi Downs

Outstanding sprinter U S Navy Flag (USA), a Group 1-winning 2 and 3-year-old, will stand his first Southern Hemisphere season at Valachi Downs in 2019. TDN’s Paul Vettise chats with stud manager Jonathan Scully about the high-profile son of leading international sire War Front (USA), who has arrived off the back of his first season at Coolmore Ireland.

TDNAusNZ: How did U S Navy Flag cope with flight from Ireland?

JS: He arrived in great order and we started parading him on Monday morning and through the week and he honestly looks a million dollars.

TDNAusNZ: How has he settled in and is he is an easy horse to handle?

JS: He’s all dappled and got good condition on him. He’s a strapper’s dream and arrived here and walked straight off the truck and in his box for a couple of hours and then in his paddock. He put his head straight down and started eating. We can’t believe what an amazing temperament he’s got.

TDNAusNZ: Have you been pleased with the response from breeders to U S Navy Flag?

JS: The feedback we’ve had on him has just been phenomenal and he’s more of a horse than people were expecting. Sir Peter Vela has been here, and he was suitably impressed and came to us with a few bookings. Danny Rolston, of New Zealand Bloodstock, loved him and how correct the horse is so it’s all really great for us and the New Zealand breeding industry.

TDNAusNZ: Has there been interest from Australian breeders?

JS: It’s still early days, but we’ve got bookings from Australia and Coolmore have a number of mares in New Zealand that will be coming to him. For the numbers he’ll get, without a shareholder base, will be just brilliant.

TDNAusNZ: How many mares will Valachi commit to him?

JS: We’re looking to breed at least 30 of our own mares to him. We’re sorting out the list at the moment, but he’ll be getting Miss Avalon (Ire) (Fantastic Light {USA}), the dam of the Karaka Million and G1 Diamond S. winner Vespa (NZ) (Elusive City {USA}) and Rosa Stellata. She’s a lovely Zabeel (NZ) mare and the dam of Lubiton (Snitzel) who is a Group 3 winner in Australia at Moonee Valley and set a track record there and a Listed winner as well. Another one going to him as Honfleur, a Fastnet Rock mare who's a half-sister to Shamrocker (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) and his sister Bohemian Lily (NZ) and she’ll be another lovely mare for him.

He’s free of Danehill (USA) and Zabeel (NZ) so there’s options for all mares. Mares by them and O’Reilly (NZ), Encosta de Lago, Pentire (GB) etc will all suit him. He’s going to put a lot of quality and speed into these sorts of mares.

TDNAusNZ: When did US Navy Flag first come on to Valachi’s radar?

JS: To be perfectly honest, we weren’t interested in getting a stallion at all this year. We were courted with a lot of horses, but we really just wanted to finish our stallion unit and we’ve been through a major building phase in the last 12 months.

We decided that when we do get another stallion it had to be a high-profile horse, very sexy pedigree and a great race record and we were pretty keen on a sprinter, which we can’t get from Australia, they are just too expensive to get them to New Zealand.

This horse just fell into our laps when I was at the Gold Coast Sale. Michael Kirwan and I were talking about stallions and he offered me one horse and I said no, there were too many horses coming into New Zealand at fees of NZ$10,000 and under and if we’re going to take anything it had to be high-profile.

He said go and have a look at our website and see what’s not coming down from Ireland. We saw U S Navy Flag and didn’t think we were any chance. Within 24 hours I was on a plane to Ireland and the rest is history.

TDNAusNZ: What were your first impressions of U S Navy Flag when you inspected him in Ireland?

JS: Within 24 hours I was on a plane and the more I looked at him the more I liked him. I’m still pinching myself when I look at the horse every day and I fall in love with him even more. He’s got a great walk on him for a sprinter and is very well-balanced with a lovely head. Since he’s arrived, I think he’s an even nicer horse.

TDNAusNZ: How did you arrive at a NZ$20,000 + GST service price?

JS: He stood in Ireland for 25,000 euros and he’s got 97 mares in foal. We were thinking NZ$25,000 and Coolmore said no, stand him at NZ$20,000 so people find him really great value.

To get a sprinter of his quality with an astounding pedigree is brilliant for the New Zealand industry. He’s very popular so breeders keen on him will need to get in fairly soon.


U S Navy Flag’s emerging brilliance at two

The juvenile campaign from U S Navy Flag (USA) saw the speedy son of War Front (USA) claim two Group 1 feats back-to-back, quickly earning him the honours of Champion 2YO in Europe and Champion 2YO Colt in Europe, GB and Ireland.

He first entered the winners circle following a 2-year-old maiden race over six furlongs, beating home Dawn Delivers (GB) and stablemate Fleet Review (USA), with the latter a frequent rival in his Group 1 quests.

Following an admirable fourth place in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes behind Sioux Nation (USA), U S Navy Flag made the most of a slightly easier task in the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes to lead all the way on the stands rail and strike by an impressive six lengths.

His progression at each start saw him headed for the Group 1 Newmarket Middle Park Stakes where he began his rise to record-breaking glory.

Flying down the straight course at Newmarket, U S Navy Flag put in a gutsy performance to win the six-furlong feature half a length ahead of Fleet Review, while also upstaging Phoenix Stakes-winning Sioux Nation.

Two weeks later he led throughout to win the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, again over the Newmarket six furlongs and this time beating home Mendelssohn (USA) by two and a half lengths. In doing so, U S Navy Flag became the first 2-year-old since Diesis in 1982 to win both the Middle Park Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes.

“The redoubtable colt saw the most racecourse action as a 2-year-old of any of the 44 European juvenile champions and joint-champions dating back to 1978,” commented Mark Bird, Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board Handicapper.

“There was no shortage of quality in some of his efforts and he emerged to put in the season’s defining juvenile performance, in landing his second Group 1, the Dewhurst in record time.”

U S Navy Flag follows in the footsteps of other exceptional Group 1-winning 2-year-olds to retire to stud. Looking at the Dewhurst Stakes honour roll in recent years, Frankel (GB), Teofilo (IRE) and Shamardal (USA) all progressed from Group 1-winning 2-year-olds into successful stallions.

Frankel is now a rising star striking at 16.8% stakes winners to runners with a multitude of high-class performers, while established sire Shamardal continues to punch at over 72% winners and 11.2% stakes winners.

With U S Navy Flag the most talented son of War Front, having proven himself a record-breaking world-class racehorse, his future off the racetrack is set to deliver just as much anticipation.


U S Navy Flag latest product of sire-making July Cup

Being the centrepiece of the three-day July Festival in Newmarket, the £500,000 Group 1 July Cup has long been established as one of Britain’s most valuable and prestigious sprint races. The six furlong sprint has also gained a reputation as a stallion’s race, with many of its winners subsequently parlaying their racing ability into successful careers at stud.

Going back through the honour roll as far as 30-odd years, Danzig’s son Green Desert won the July Cup in 1986 while Danehill placed third in 1989. Anabaa, Stravinsky, Mozart, Oasis Dream and Starspangledbanner were all winners of the July Cup, and among several other winners of the race, they all became influential sires.

The July course is renowned for being tough with a strong uphill run over the last furlong, so with the July Cup being the first contest each year in which 3-year-old sprinters get to prove themselves against older rivals at the highest level, they need to be the best around to score. 

Only five 3-year-olds have triumphed in the last 15 years, including 2018 winner U S Navy Flag (USA) who beat home 2017 July Cup placegetter Brando (GB) and stablemate Fleet Review (USA). He also finished ahead of race favourite Blue Point (IRE) and multiple Group 1-winning sprinter Redkirk Warrior (GB). 

The last six winners have also gone on to be crowned top European sprinters, with U S Navy Flag the most recent example having been awarded Champion 3YO Sprinter in Europe, Great Britain and Ireland following his victory.  

He had already won the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes at two, only the second horse in history to complete this double, while also earning the titles of Champion 2YO in Europe and Champion 2YO Colt in Great Britain and Ireland.

Adding the July Cup to his Group 1 scores, and completing a Newmarket Group 1 triple crown, he carved himself a niche in racing history. Now the son of War Front will join the Valachi Downs stallion roster and follow in the footsteps of the winners before him.

He also followed something of a blueprint for success in the breed-shaping July Cup, providing his trainer Aidan O’Brien with his fourth winner of the prestigious race. Eight years prior, O’Brien had guided Starspangledbanner to victory, while also having success with Mozart and Stravinsky in 2001 and 1999 respectively. 

“U S Navy Flag has already proven himself a world class horse,” commented Coolmore Australian sales and nominations manager Colm Santry.

“He was a dual Group 1-winning champion 2-year-old and is a Group 1 winner at weight-for-age at three, winning one of the most prestigious sprints in the world in the July Cup.”

U S Navy Flag will stand the 2019 season at Valachi Downs at a fee of $20,000 + GST. 

U S Navy Flag synonymous with Danzig and War Front’s influence of speed and precocity

The great Danzig was highly regarded for siring consistent horses that could race on dirt and turf, and at sprint or classic distances. Jack Werk described the Danzig sireline as ’the most influential worldwide,’ largely because of Danehill’s (USA) influence in both Europe and Australia, Green Desert’s (USA) influence in Europe, and now War Front’s influence in America and Europe.

The announcement of U S Navy Flag (USA) to shuttle to Valachi Downs in New Zealand this breeding season provides breeders with access to another exceptional sprinter from the Danzig-sireline.

His sire War Front has established his reputation as one of the world’s most active sires. His sky-high international status is a result of the plentiful Group/Grade 1 triumphs on both sides of the Atlantic as well as top-level success in both Hong Kong and Australia. 

He has showed himself to be capable of producing horses suitable for different racing conditions around the world and his effectiveness at instilling precocity into his stock. This is highlighted by War Front’s feat of siring two Dewhurst winners within three years - despite not being based in Europe, and not to mention numerous other notable juvenile triumphs. 

War Front’s tally of Group/Grade 1 winners has kept climbing. Four of his sons scored at the highest level in 2018, including U S Navy Flag, and last month his total of individual Group 1 winners increased to 21 when War Of Will (USA) gave the stallion his first win in a US Triple Crown race by taking the Preakness Stakes. Despite his sire’s dominance on turf sprints, War Of Will once again demonstrated the adaptability of the sireline being a dirt Classic winner.  

War Front’s first-season stud fee in 2007 was $US12,500, and his meteoric rise to stardom can be gauged by its rapid ascent: up to $US60,000 in 2012, to $US80,000 in 2013, to $US150,000 in 2014, to $US200,000 in 2016. For the past three seasons he has stood for a quarter of a million dollars, twenty times the fee he commanded at the outset.

But he is not the only son of Danzig to make waves globally, with Danehill and Green Desert (largely through Volksraad, Cape Cross and Invincible Spirit) leaving an incredible legacy in Australasia.

Although dual-hemisphere sire Danehill died in 2003, 16 years later he’s still the most influential force in the pedigrees of Australia’s Group 1 winners. In the 2018-19 season, 55% of the Australian Group 1 winners carried Danehill in their pedigrees in some capacity. 

Danehill’s champion sons Redoute’s Choice, Fastnet Rock and Exceed and Excel all sired Group 1 winners in their own right last season and importantly, they achieved Group 1 success with their sire sons.

The Green Desert branch of the Danzig sireline produced five Group 1 winners in the 2018-19 season and is being seen worldwide as a growing influence through the deeds of champion sire Invincible Spirit (IRE) and his sire sons who include I Am Invincible, the most successful Group 1 sire in Australia this season with four individual Group 1 winners.

Southern hemisphere breeders will now have the opportunity to tap into this sireline, with U S Navy Flag a great exemplary of the speed and precocity that both War Front and Danzig have developed.

U S Navy Flag will be the most talented son of War Front to have shuttled, not only because he won the Group 1 July Cup last year, but as a two-year-old in 2017 he had become only the second horse in the modern era to complete the double of England’s most prestigious juvenile races, the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.

After covering a full book in his maiden season at Coolmore Ireland, U S Navy Flag will shuttle to Valachi Downs to commence the 2019 season at a fee of $20,000 + GST. 

History-making Champion Sprinter U S Navy Flag to Valachi Downs


With great excitement Valachi Downs announce exquisitely-bred three-time Group 1 winning Champion sprinter U S Navy Flag (USA) (War Front {USA}) will stand at the Matamata property in 2019.

For the first time in history, New Zealand breeders will have the opportunity to breed to a Champion European two year old and three year old sprinter, who beat older horses in the breed-shaping G1 July Cup.

“There has never been a sprinter of this elite-level stand at stud in New Zealand, let alone with the incredible pedigree U S Navy Flag possesses,” said Valachi Downs General Manager Jonathan Scully. “We are beyond delighted to offer this precocious speed sire to breeders.” 

U S Navy Flag offers a beautiful blend of elite sirelines and a bluechip pedigree through a deep black-type family. A son of top international sire War Front, U S Navy Flag is from a four-time Group 1 winning daughter of Galileo, Misty for Me, a Champion two-year-old and three-year-old in Ireland. He is a brother to three-time Group 1 winner Roly Poly. 

Debuting as an early two-year-old, trainer Aiden O’Brien travelled U S Navy Flag to Newmarket for the G1 Middle Park S. after he saluted in the G3 Curragh Round Tower S. He upstaged his G1 Phoenix S.-winning barnmate Sioux Nation in his maiden Group 1 victory, before backing up a fortnight later into the G1 Dewhurst S.  

When defeating an exceptional field in the Dewhurst, including eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Mendelssohn, U S Navy Flag became the first horse for 35 years, since Diesis, to land the Middle Park-Dewhurst double.

After the historic win, jockey Ryan Moore was effusive in his praise for the outstanding juvenile.  “He’s been a remarkable horse,” Moore said. 

“It was a good Dewhurst today and he was strong at the line. This is a massive feat.” 

U S Navy Flag returned at three to run second in the Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas, before dropping back to his preferred 1200m-distance in the Group 1 July Cup against older horses. The ultimate European sprint Championship, the July Cup has produced winners Oasis Dream, Anabaa, Starspangledbanner and Stravinsky, plus Danehill who finished second, amongst others, who have excelled at stud.

In this impressive victory, U S Navy Flag created a piece of racing history by completing a Newmarket Group 1 triple crown in the form of the Middle Park, Dewhurst and July Cup.

Upon retirement to Coolmore Ireland, trainer Aiden O’Brien described U S Navy Flag as ‘brilliant’, stating, "speed is his biggest attribute but heart is his next biggest, he never lies down and is an amazing horse.”

The arrival of U S Navy Flag to Valachi Downs highlights the commitment of the farm to accessing the best bloodlines in the world.

“I recently traveled to Coolmore to physically inspect U S Navy Flag and can describe him as the epitome of a Danzig-line sprinter. He is strong, neat and correct, the same dark-bay colour as his sire War Front and grandsire Danzig,” said Scully. 

“He will add an enormous injection of high quality speed to our broodmare population.”

After covering a full book in his maiden season at Coolmore Ireland, U S Navy Flag will shuttle to New Zealand to commence the 2019 season at a fee of $20,000 + GST.