The Oaks Stud Acquires U S Navy Flag

After a sensational weekend for U S Navy Flag (USA) when his gun filly Chantilly Lace (NZ) was the dominant 10 L winner of the Listed Castletown S., TDN AusNZ caught up with Chantilly Lace’s trainer Chrissy Bambry and The Oaks Stud’s Rick Williams who has announced the son of War Front (USA) has been acquired outright.

The timing could not have been better for promising stallion U S Navy Flag (USA) to sire a double, including a stakes race on Saturday.

Rick Williams, general manager of The Oaks Stud in Cambridge, New Zealand, shared, “The Oaks Stud has purchased U S Navy Flag outright from Coolmore Stud. The deal was finalised on Friday, so we own him now. The timing has been perfect for us, and I hope it is a coup for the New Zealand industry.”

The red-letter Saturday started for U S Navy Flag at Avondale when the Peter and Dawn Williams-trained Geldof (NZ) scored on debut, backing up his strong trial form.

Geldof was a NZ$44,000 yearling purchased by Mrs VG Healey from the draft of Little Avondale Stud at the 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale and, from his debut, appears to have plenty of upside for his connections.

Chantilly Lace breaks through

Approximately 450 kilometres away in Wanganui in the race named after the ‘Kiwi’ warhorse Castletown (NZ) (One Pound Sterling {GB}), the Listed Castletown S., the Chrissy Bambry-trained Chantilly Lace (NZ) achieved a notable milestone for U S Navy Flag when she raced away by 10l to become the sire’s first Southern Hemisphere stakes winner.

Bambry, who is in her fifth season of training and having taken over from her father, was thrilled to see the filly co-owned by her parents race away and win with such authority, “She’s (Chantilly Lace) is a pretty cool little filly. It was exhilarating to see her win that impressively. I asked Lily (Sutherland) to go early as I knew we had race fitness, but when Chantilly Lace raced away from them, it was pretty unreal, really.”

The Listed Castletown S. also became a landmark milestone for the New Zealand-based apprentice Lily Sutherland who partnered with Chantilly Lace to score their maiden stake victories.

Chantilly Lace winning the  Listed Castletown Stakes

“We had Kelsey Hannan on Chantilly Lace last start, and Lily and Kelsey have ridden her before. Lily has put a lot of work in at the jump-outs and trials on the filly,” said Bambry.

“The biggest thing for me is putting on a jockey that knows the horse and has faith in the horse. Lily (Sutherland) knew how good Chantilly Lace was and went into the Castletown with huge confidence in the filly, and I think alone puts you a length ahead.” - Chrissy Bambry

Bambry, who has spent her whole life around horses, having worked many yearling preparations in New Zealand, Australia and England and being a daughter of a trainer, has a vast array of experience and explained to TDN AusNZ how the filly came to be part of her stable.

“When Dad stepped back from training, I stepped in and evolved the business a little bit. I brought on more client horses, and we’ve been lucky enough to get some really lovely horses from clients, but it is very special to train a horse for ourselves and the family.

“We breed some mares ourselves, and I felt we needed to evolve our breeding band of mares a little bit, so when the Valachi Downs’ dispersal came up, I discussed buying a filly to be a future broodmare prospect with Mum and Dad.

“There were too many horses in the dispersal to look at for me as I was too busy to get up there. I was training a horse for Paul Moroney at the time, and he had been to see them. Paul gave me a shortlist of a dozen fillies to go and look at, so my partner and I shot across one day and looked at the twelve fillies, and we shorted it down to three.”

The filly that would top the shortlist and become Chantilly Lace for Bambry was a brown filly by the first-season, sire U S Navy Flag, and the third foal from the More Than Ready (USA) mare, On The Move.

Chantilly Lace was on top of that list (shortlist from the Valachi Downs’ Dispersal) that we wanted. We were fortunate, we probably spent a bit more than we anticipated (on Chantilly Lace), but it is looking like a good buy now.” - Chrissy Bambry

Bambry is an unabashed fan of U S Navy Flag and describes Chantilly Lace as typical of what the stallion is siring.

“We had bred to U S Navy Flag with our mares, and I really liked him as a stallion. Chantilly Lace is out of a nice mare. She was a very athletic filly with great movement and attitude, those factors stood out for me.

“Chantilly Lace is typical of the sire, they aren’t big horses, but they are very athletic and have great brains. All the U S Navy Flags I’ve had, including a nice colt we sold to Suman Hedge at Karaka, are beautiful movers; they want to please and do things right, and Chantilly Lace is exactly the same.”

Bambry has always held a good opinion of the bonny little filly and hasn’t been afraid to race her, Saturday was the eighth start for the 2-year-old, and it’s fair to say she’s danced every dance and fronted up each time.

Running third in the Listed Futurity S. at Auckland last start and a meritorious fifth in the G1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce S. was a popular and well-deserved victory for Chantilly Lace and the team.

“Mark and Lorraine Forbes performed all my educating and pre-training, and Mark had indicated pretty early that he felt Chantilly Lace was pretty smart. When the filly returned to me and her first jump-out, I could see we definitely had some ability there. I hoped it would keep improving and translate to the racetrack.”

The filly has been put away, with Bambry keen to place her filly through the grades come the spring.

“Chantilly Lace, as we speak, is in a big grassy paddock, and she’ll return for the spring races. I think she has such an electric turn of foot on a good track, so I am really looking forward to seeing her over some ground on a good track as she relaxes beautifully.” - Chrissy Bambry

“There are plenty of races in New Zealand for her. As a potential broodmare for us, we aim to achieve as much black-type as we can, whether in New Zealand or Australia as an older mare. We’ll just see and keep her going through the grades,” Bambry told TDN AusNZ.

“Oh, I will send some mares to U S Navy Flag. I think the best is still yet to come.”

Williams excited for spring

It is music to Williams’ ears and sentiments he is becoming accustomed to hearing about the progeny of the son of War Front (USA).

“It was U S Navy Flag’s first stakes winner in NZ, but he’s been a little bit unlucky not to have cracked it before now in Australasia.”

The results on the track back up that statement when you look at the performances of his progeny to hit the track.

From U S Navy Flag’s Northern Hemisphere crops, he has produced Ocean Vision (Ire), a four-time winner, including the Listed Prix de la Vallée d'Auge at Deauville and the Listed Prix de Pontarme at Longchamp. Ocean Vision was also placed in the G2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte at Chantilly, and Love Reigns (Ire) won two Listed races before running fourth in the G2 Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot.

U S Navy Flag’s first Southern Hemisphere crop yielded 98 foals, 21 of which have hit the track resulting in six winners of seven races, four stakes performers and one stakes winner.

Amongst the first crop include To Catch A Thief, from the Snitzel mare Stolen Gem. To Catch A Thief has been placed twice incredibly at Group 1 level in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce S. and the G1 Sistema S. In addition, the gelding has been placed in the G2 Eclipse S. and the Listed Champagne S.

U S Navy Flag pictured at Coolmore Stud

Interestingly, the winner and Listed-placed Penvose Lad is also from a Snitzel mare named Paramalove.

Then we have Aprilia (NZ), another winner for her sire, who has also been placed in the G1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce S.

“He has some lovely horses profiling up to be beautiful spring 3-year-olds, and that’s what you want,” Williams said.


“U S Navy Flag has had six individual 2-year-old winners, and he’s going to be crowned Champion First Season Sire in New Zealand and is going to finish second on the 2-Year-Old Sires against all the stallions standing in New Zealand, so that is a pretty good effort.”

A pretty good effort indeed, only Per Incanto (USA) (seven winners) in the 2014/15 season has sired more first-crop winners in New Zealand than U S Navy Flag in recent memory.

And it has been well-advertised that Per Incanto’s progeny are high-held, putting U S Navy Flag in some very esteemed company.

It should not be surprising to see U S Navy Flag performing in his new role as he carries an aristocratic pedigree. For NZ$15,000 (plus GST), not many stallions can claim to having a pedigree such as this, carrying the blood of two of the most influential stallions in the modern era; U S Navy Flag is a blueblood by every definition.

U S Navy Flag is a son of the Claiborne Farm-based champion War Front, a son of the incredible Danzig (USA).

War Front has sired over 100 stakes winners, and despite being an American dirt horse, he has proven to be one of those rare stallions whose progeny are equally effective on turf and dirt.

U S Navy Flag also packs plenty of punch through his maternal side. His dam Misty For Me (Ire), a daughter of incomparable Galileo (Ire), was crowned the Champion 2-Year-Old Filly in France and Ireland in 2010 and the Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in Ireland for 2011.

Misty For Me claimed the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp, the G1 Moyglare Stud S. and the G1 Pretty Polly S. She was also placed in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and the G1 Matron S.

Her achievements on the racetrack are exceptional, and she’s taken the same path as a broodmare. U S Navy Flag is a full sister to Roly Poly (USA), an outstanding campaigner for Ballydoyle, winning the G1 Prix Rothschild, the G1 Sun Chariot S., and the G1 Falmouth S. She was also placed a further three times at the elite level.

U S Navy Flag’s race exploits, like his sister and dam, were exceptional. As a 2-year-old colt, he won the G1 Dewhurst S. and the G1 Middle Park S. at Newmarket and the G2 Round Tower S. at the Curragh, making him the European Champion 2-Year-Old in 2017.

U S Navy Flag was the first colt in 35 years to claim that succession of races. Returning as a 3-year-old, U S Navy Flag showed his class to finish second in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas before returning to the sprint trips and beating the older horses in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket.

“His pedigree is unbelievable. U S Navy Flag was a funny horse, Coolmore raced him a lot, and he just got better and better, and you see that with Chantilly Lace, who won on Saturday, she’s taken some racing for a baby but has kept improving.”

All eyes towards spring

Williams is pleased with the performance and feedback from the first crop of U S Navy Flag.

“Most of my social friends are horse trainers, so I get pretty accurate feedback on what they think of a horse, whether good or bad.

“He seems to be throwing horses similar to himself. They cope with racing and keep improving. U S Navy Flag is not a big horse, but he’s one of the best-moving horses you’ll ever see.”

Williams, before standing the stallion, has always held his progeny in high regard, “I just love them; from the time Valachi Downs had U S Navy Flag, I looked at about 46 weanlings, and they have great hindquarters, good hocks, gaskins and just nice heads and eyes. They walk so well, and it gives you confidence he’ll be a high percentage horse.

“I just love them (progeny of U S Navy Flag); from the time Valachi Downs had U S Navy Flag, I looked at about 46 weanlings, and they have great hindquarters, good hocks, gaskins and just nice heads and eyes. They walk so well, and it gives you confidence he’ll be a high percentage (winners to runners) horse.” - Rick Williams

“From around the world, they tell me the War Fronts prefer a good track, and we haven’t had many of those in New Zealand, and I know Chrissy (Bambry) said she can’t wait to Chantilly Lace on a good track.”

With such a great start to his career, Williams is looking forward to the upcoming spring, where he tips we will see a lot more of the progeny salute the judge.

“We couldn't be happier right now. I’m more excited about the spring because many trainers I’ve spoken to have had trial winners by the stallion that haven’t raced yet, and they’ve put them away for the spring. He’s got plenty of unraced stock with high opinions on them to come through,” Williams told TDN AusNZ.

“Whether he’ll be a top-notch stallion, time will tell, but the way he’s going, he’s not a bad stallion. Let’s hope the success continues, and it’s a good investment for us and the New Zealand breeding industry.”

Written by Keely Mckitterick
-TDN Australia


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