Merchant Navy is heading to Royal Ascot.
Merchant Navy is heading to Royal Ascot.

Navy’s Irish win thrills star trainer Aidan O’Brien

STAR Australian sprinter Merchant Navy booked his ticket to next month's Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot with victory in a Group 2 sprint at The Curragh yesterday.

The 1200m Greenlands Stakes was Merchant Navy's first start for Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien. The colt ran on strongly to win by a length from stablemate Spirit Of Valor.

Merchant Navy will be ­retired to stud after that race.

"You'd be delighted with him, obviously," O'Brien said on Racing UK.

"We felt he was just ready to come and the whole reason for running him was to see before we went to Ascot.

"We felt 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.

"(Jockey) Ryan (Moore) was very happy. The plan is to go to Ascot. I think there's a lot of ­improvement in him."

Merchant Navy wins the McNeil Stakes.
Merchant Navy wins the McNeil Stakes.

Merchant Navy, trained by Ciaron Maher and Aaron Purcell, won five of his eight Australian starts, including the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes.

He ran third in the Newmarket Handicap behind Redkirk Warrior, whom he will meet in the Diamond Jubilee.