Warwick Render of Bush Hill Stud comments on how fortunate they have been to have a horse of Flying
The Flag’s calibre on the farm: “Every day I look at this horse I find it hard to believe just how lucky we are to have him here, had it not been for timing in our favour I doubt very much we would have seen him in this country at all with the recent international performances of his family. The quality of his first crop of foals just emphasises how special he is they are much in the mould of their sire, strong quartered high quality with good size and substance – we are absolutely thrilled.”
Beginning his racing career under the exclusive banner of Coolmore Stud who stand his sire, the great Galileo, Flying The Flag’s dam Halfway To Heaven has now produced three Group Winners at stud including a Cartier Champion 2YO Filly.
Halfway To Heaven, who has the Gr1 Irish 1000 Guineas, the Gr1 Nassau and Gr1 Sun Chariot under her belt is proving herself to be equally as exceptional in the breeding paddocks as she was on the racetrack, in particular with her bay daughters Rhododendron and Magical, each Gr1 winners.
An imposing chestnut stallion standing 16.2 with plenty of quality, athletiscm and a kind disposition, Flying The Flag retired a 3-time winner including the Gr3 International Stakes in Ireland and placed second in the stallion producing race, the Gr2 Futurity Stakes.
The globetrotting chestnut raced in Ireland, France, England, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa also placed in top company in the Gr2 Jebel Hatta and the Gr3 London News Stakes over distances of 1400m – 2000m.
Flying The Flag is closely related to the two-time Gr1 winning mare Photo Call in America; the winner of the First Lady Stakes where she defeated the great Tepin in the process by three lengths.
Irish-bred Photo Call by Galileo is out of a half-sister to the dam of Flying The Flag, and sold for $3-million at the 2015 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. With the damline already including the likes of sire Verglas and Stravinsky, Flying The Flag’s pedigree has been catapulted into the spotlight this year with his full sisters Rhododendron and Magical.
Rhododendron and Magical are both trained by Aiden O’Brien and the elder of the two contributed to Aiden’s outstanding achievement of 26 Gr1 winners, bettering Bobby Frankel’s record. Galileo is the sire of 17 of those Gr1 wins.
After placing second on debut, Rhododendron set about making herself known in only her third start where she defeated Hydrangea to take the Gr2 Debutante. She followed up with a third place in the Gr1 Moyglare, and followed through next time out to win the Gr1 Dubai Filllies Mile, running on comfortably
to win by four lengths at a course where speed is a necessity to win.
She was deservedly given a 212 day rest and started favourite in the Gr1 1000 Guineas under Ryan Moore, where she finished second to Winter. Hydrangea and Intricately finished towards the end of the field that day. Her next mission was the Gr1 Investec Oaks where she was not disgraced, finishing second to the great racemare Enable.
Sporting a Timeform Rating of 116 and after another rest – getting over a burst blood vessel on a hot June day, the first of October saw Rhododendron line up at Chantilly for the Gr1 Prix De L’Opera in leading European company. Seamie Heffernan rode her to victory by a head from stablemate and rival Hydrangea, with Wuheida finishing fourth – the latter would go on to win at the Breeders Cup with Rhododendron closely behind after finding traffic problems in running.
Aiden O’Brien describes Rhododendron as a special filly, whilst her jockey Heffernan said after her Chantilly Gr1 win: “I rode her a bit in the spring and I had her down as nearly being our number one.”
“She ran really well in an English Guineas and in an Oaks. We know why we got beaten now because the winner [Enable] won again today. She just felt good throughout the race today so I always felt in the last furlong I had a little bit to get to the winning post.”
In the meantime, juvenile full sister Magical has been filling her sisters big shoes and secured the Gr2 Debutante the year after her sister won it. After placing second on debut, she won next time out and went on to defeat Gr1 winner Happily in the Debutante by over a length.
Aiden put her against Happily again in the Gr1 Moyglare, and in a nailbiting finish she was just a short head off her first Gr1 win. Entered to race at Chantilly on the same day as her elder Gr1 winning sister, Magical finished fourth in the Gr1 Prix Marcel Boussac less than two lengths off. Timeform Rated at 109, she followed up with a place in the Gr1 Fillies Mile under Ryan Moore.
Magical has gone on to impress further, winning the Gr1 Fillies & Mares Stakes and Gr2 Kilboy Estate Stakes. She also finished a duelling second to the tough Enable in the Gr1 Breeders Cup Turf, both star fillies leaving the colts in their dust. She then went on to finish fourth in the Gr1 Matron Stakes.
Rhododendron has retired from racing and been exported to Japan for stud duties.
There is no doubt that the combination of Galileo and Halfway To Heaven is a magical one and its no surprise that the mare has returned to Galileo since.
Expect future yearlings from the immediate families of Vercingetorix, Zirconeum and Plutonium, The Mouseketeer and Bezanova as well as Irish Flame to come.
The perfect combination of quality and speed, Flying The Flag stood for a fee of R20 000 in 2018. His first yearlings are on offer at the upcoming Cape Yearling Sale in March at Mistico Estate, with two from Wilgerbosdrift and one from Hemel ‘n Arde Stud on offer.
Flying The Flag’s second dam is the speedy grey Group Winning mare Cassandra Go, and he is closely related to sire Stravinksy.