American turf racing will have a new star attraction this season as Flintshire, one of the best middle distance performers in the world over the past three seasons, is to switch from Andre Fabre’s stable in France to be trained by leading U.S. trainer Chad Brown.
The dual Arc runner-up, who is moving within the next month, has a strong following in America already. The Juddmonte-owned 6-year-old won the G1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga last August and was second in the 2014 Breeders Cup Turf at Santa Anita, just a half-length behind Main Sequence.
“The move is for a number of reasons,” said Lord Grimthorpe, Racing Manager for Juddmonte owner Prince Khalid Abdullah. “Prince Khalid has wanted to strengthen the American stable, generally ground conditions are good or firm, going which he prefers, and American races are run at a fast pace from the start. Flintshire has already shown his ability to handle American tracks.”
Chad Brown is a former assistant to the late Bobby Frankel, longtime trainer for Juddmonte.
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Flintshire (Dansili - Dance Routine, by Sadler’s Wells) is to be aimed at the top 10-12 furlong races, with the Breeders Cup Turf at Santa Anita in November likely to be a main target. “We have no first race objective, but the [G1] United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park in July is on the agenda,” said Grimthorpe. The race, over 11 furlongs, carries automatic qualification for the Breeders Cup Turf for the winner.
Fabre has trained Flintshire throughout his globetrotting 19-race career, during which he has won over €5.7 million in prize money. That includes three G1 wins on three different continents - Europe (France), Asia (Hong Kong) and North America.
Flintshire first burst to prominence in only his fourth race, when easily winning the G1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp in 2013 on his favoured fast ground. The horse has been a model of consistency ever since. He was runner-up to Treve in the 2014 Arc and to Golden Horn last season.
Flintshire’s toughness and consistency to stand up to racing was evident last year, when he ran eight times between March and December on three different continents and was never out of the first three, winning one G1 and being placed in five. He rounded off the year by finishing second to Aidan O’Brien’s Highland Reel in the Hong Kong Vase, which he had won the previous year.
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“The consistency has been down to a couple of vital things,” said Grimthorpe. “The horse has been very sound throughout his career, which makes a big difference, and he has always run well when ground conditions are in his favour and a race is run at a good pace throughout.
“In the Vase last December, they went very slowly for the first part of the race, which didn’t suit the horse’s style of racing. A very important part of the equation has to be Andre Fabre, without doubt the greatest trainer of his generation.”
Fabre also trained Flintshire’s sire, Dansili, now 20, who was a top-class miler and has had a stellar stud career, siring 19 G1 winners to date from Juddmonte’s Banstead Manor Stud at Newmarket.
Flintshire’s switch brings one intriguing question: will he run on Lasix in the States?
Fabre has always been against the use of Lasix, and his horses have never run on it in the States or anywhere else. “It's doping,” he told me recently. “And, if we did have to use it, I would rather not compete than run my horses on Lasix.”