Global superstar Merchant Navy wins Royal Ascot G1
Australian sprinting star Merchant Navy(4c Fastnet Rock-Legally Bay, by Snippets) proved equally adept in the northern hemisphere when winning the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
The son of Fastnet Rock has now won both his European starts since being based in Ireland with trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Merchant Navy settled behind his stable companions Spirit Of Valor and Intelligence Cross in the early stages of the six-furlong contest and held on gamely in the closing stages to deny the fast-finishing French raider City Light in a pulsating finish.
"Merchant Navy was travelling very well and we knew looking at him that Ryan (Moore) was very happy,” said O’Brien. “I think he was hoping he would not have to get there too early on him. He got a little bit of a bump and Ryan said it took a bit of time to rebalance. We are over the moon with him.
"We were always told that he was only here for Royal Ascot because he has stallion commitments in Australia. That's why we were so anxious to get a run into him at the Curragh, because we knew that we might not have him after Ascot. We will have to see what happens now, but that was the plan as far as I was told. The plan might change.”
Ciaron Maher, the Australian-based former trainer of Merchant Navy, was on hand to savour the victory.
"He's come through our system and was an unbeaten two-year-old and a G1-winning three-year-old and now he has come and done it up here as well. He's obviously going to have a good time at stud and be very busy in both hemispheres,” said Maher.
"I have never been to Royal Ascot before, but I thought a testing six furlongs would be perfect for him - and he can run seven, he proved that as a two-year-old. He's got an unbelievable set of lungs, a testing 1,200 metres would be ideal for him.
"He's still developing, he was a later foal, he'd be better again next year - but he'll be off to stud by then!"
Jockey Ryan Moore was equally full of admiration for his mount and added: “Merchant Navy is a remarkable horse. He hasn't been up here long. He has had two starts here and won them both, beating high-class fields, and he is only a young horse.
"I sat third and I didn't really want to be third. I had to go sooner than I would have liked. The race didn't really go to script for anybody I would have thought. I thought I would have won easier, but Bound For Nowhere leaned into me and we got very tight, so he lost his rhythm for a second.
"If I had got beat, I would have been very unlucky, but I'm delighted and it's a pleasure to be riding these sort of horses."