- Sire-Dam -
Merchant Navy’s appearances in Britain and Ireland were always going to be very much limited edition but he made his mark by winning a thrilling Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Five days later his connections confirmed it was his final run and that he would be returning to Australia for a second career at stud.
The Australian-bred son of Fastnet Rock had only a short head to spare over the French-trained City Light at Ascot but was having to do it the hard way because he was treated a three-year-old in the southern hemisphere and a four-year-old in Britain.
The horse’s last run in Australia came in March, with his first in the northern hemisphere – after being transferred to the yard of Aidan O’Brien – being a success in the Group 3 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh in May.
“Merchant Navy made lovely progress from the Curragh to here, but we thought that it was an impossible task for him,” O’Brien said. “We knew that he was meeting the field 12lb wrong than he was in Australia and it was a big worry for him. He was only a three-year-old being treated as a four-year-old.
“When he ran at the Curragh, his coat didn’t know whether he was going into the winter or coming into the summer. So he had a lot of readjusting to do. Some horses adjust and they have that healthy constitution and some don’t – he obviously has. He has a great mind – he sleeps, eats and is a very straightforward horse.”
He added: “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.” But it didn’t.
Ciaron Maher, the Australian-based former trainer of Merchant Navy, when asked of his thoughts concerning missing out on training the horse to win himself, said: “It’s great for the horse and for the owners and they sold him for a fairly healthy sum to Coolmore who always had a share – you can’t have your cake and eat it.
“He’s come through our system and was an unbeaten two-year-old and a Group 1-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.
“I have never been to Royal Ascot, 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 1200 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.”
BCS Career statistics
|Year||Wins-2nd-3rd||Prize money||Group 1 wins||Archived results|