Having won the inaugural running of the race 12 months ago, his season had not gone entirely to plan this year with a recent setback.
However, drawn in stall one, Kerrin McEvoy pinged the gate and never saw another rival, with Trapeze Artist coming from out of the pack to get second in the richest race in the world on turf.
For Aidan O’Brien’s US Navy Flag heavy rain through the week had dampened expectations and when the July Cup winner missed the break from stall three connections knew their fate early.
In fairness, Ryan Moore managed to get him into a challenging position on the home turn but his early exertions in heavy ground took their toll and he faded back through the pack to finish ninth of the 12 runners behind the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained winner.
McEvoy told Sky Racing: “It’s such an electric feeling. It’s a huge buzz, there’s been a big build up and to win it again is unbelievable.
“It was similar to last year, from the one gate it was Plan A to control it from the front. He’s a joy to be a part of.
“He’s quite reserved other than on a race day, all he wants to do is gallop and gallop hard.”
An emotional Paul Snowden said: “It’s a relief, it’s been a hard six weeks but to get him back on track again is satisfying.
“It was hard to try and convince people but in the last week everything has just been right. To do it again with my dad means so much.”
Peter Snowden said: “I wanted to run him a few weeks ago but he got cast in his box, the same box he’s been in for two and a half years.
“Then when we did get to run him and he was only fifth it looked a bit disappointing but I was pleased with him as he was fresh.
“When the rain was coming all week and we got gate one I was so relieved, it was meant to be. We’ll have to hold him together for one more year.”
Moore said of US Navy Flag: “He didn’t enjoy the ground.”
There was, though, much better news for Saeed bin Suroor at Caulfield as his Benbatl won the Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes.
The Godolphin runner is being lined up for a crack at Winx in the Cox Plate and this success, under Pat Cosgrave, will raise expectations they can give the mare a race.
It was a one-two for Godolphin, with Charlie Appleby’s Blair House in second while O’Brien’s Cliffs Of Moher flew home to finish just out of the places.
Bin Suroor told Channel 7: “He ran a huge race. I knew the ground would suit him because of his action and the way he finished his race gives us confidence for the Cox Plate.
“Charlie’s horse ran a huge race, too, and Sheikh Mohammed is a big supporter of Australian racing.
“The filly (Winx) is the best of the best but it has been our plan since January to run in the Cox Plate so we’ll see how we go.”
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