Aidan O’Brien has paid tribute to Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner Merchant Navy following his retirement to stud.
The ex-Australian-trained colt joined O’Brien with the aim of winning at Royal Ascot this summer, and did just that last weekend, having made a successful Irish debut at the Curragh in May.
Ridden by Ryan Moore in the six-furlong Group One sprint at the showpiece meeting, the son of Fastnet Rock won by a short head from City Light in a thrilling finish.
In the immediate aftermath, O’Brien had expressed his hope he might get to run Merchant Navy in the July Cup at Newmarket, but that was not to be.
O’Brien told Press Association Sport: “He’s an incredible horse for what he did. We thought it was kind of impossible to do what he did.
“When he won the first day we thought he hadn’t had enough time to acclimatise, but obviously he did.
“He won with a penalty and the weights all against him, and then he went on to Ascot and did the same thing.
“He was an incredibly natural horse. He had a great mind, was a great mover, was a very clean-winded horse and was very tough and genuine.
“It was a privilege to have him.”
In 10 career starts, Merchant Navy won seven times, earning nearly #1million in prize-money.