Segenhoe Raised Merchant Navy Kicks Off European Campaign in Style
Coolmore Stud stakes hero Merchant Navy kicked off his European sojourn on a winning note by making light of his top-weight in Saturday’s Group II Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes (6f) at the Curragh.
Making his first start for Aidan O’Brien, the son of Fastnet Rock came from well off the pace under Ryan Moore to power home by a length from stablemate Spirit Of Valor (War Front), with Tasleet (Showcasing) a length and a quarter away in third.
O’Brien said he felt it was important for Merchant Navy to have a run before venturing to Royal Ascot.
“You’d be delighted with him, obviously. We felt he was just ready to come and the whole reason for running him was to see before we went to Ascot,” O’Brien told Sporting Life.
“We felt that he was at a racecourse gallop stage. The lads in Australia said he was a very good horse, so we just took it totally on trust. He did five little canters, that’s all he did.
“Ryan was very happy with him. The plan is to go to Ascot for the six-furlong race (Diamond Jubilee Stakes) and I think he has to go after that.
“I think he’s only here for Ascot and then gone after that, whatever (stallion) commitments he has.
“I thought there would be a lot of improvement in him. I was just hoping for a nice run today, that’s all, so it’s all a plus.
“He wasn’t stopping, but he’s obviously not short of speed, either.
“He made a good bit of ground up from halfway and Ryan was riding him that way because we were afraid he would get tired.”
A $350,000 Inglis Easter purchase from the Segenhoe Stud draft, Merchant Navy was making his first start since finishing third behind Redkirk Warrior in the Group I Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 10.
The royally-bred son of Fastnet Rock out of the Group III winning Snippets mare Legally Bay is likely to tackle the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot before returning home to take up stud duties at Coolmore Stud this spring where his fee has been set at $55,000.