‘Navy’ Sails to Coolmore Glory

A wide open renewal of the G1 Coolmore Stud S. produced one of the most thrilling finishes of the afternoon at Flemington, as the Aaron Purcell-trained Merchant Navy (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) delivered a late surge to deny the fillies Invincible Star (Aus) (I Am Invincible {Aus}) and Formality (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}). The bumper 20-strong field split from the early stages with Invincible Star taking the lead from the larger pack on the far rail and looking for much of the race as if she would deliver back-to-back group wins for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott after Cismontane (NZ) (High Chaparral {Ire}) booked a late berth in the G1 Emirates Melbourne Cup with a similar front-running performance in the G3 Lexus S.

With Formality chasing her all the way, the fillies’ quinella was only spoiled within the final 50 metres after jockey Mark Zahra found an extra gear on Merchant Navy, coming from off the pace and forcing him clear up the rail to claim victory by a head.

For Purcell, who took out his training licence to replace the stood-down Ciaron Maher, this was a second Group 1 victory in three weeks following the victory of Aloisia (Aus) (Azamour {Ire}) in the G1 Thousand Guineas on Oct. 14.

“I took over the stable with a bunch of expensive, nice horses so obviously there were expectations, and with expectations comes pressure, said Purcell. “Fortunately I’ve got good staff behind me and I’ve got good facilities and processes at home. Things have been working well so to get the bob on the line was a very satisfying result.”

Now unbeaten in five of his six starts, including the G3 McNeil S. at Caulfield, Merchant Navy’s only reversal came on his most recent appearance in the G1 Golden Rose S. over 1400 metres on Sep. 23.

“He raced for Ciaron in Sydney and it wasn’t long after that that I took over and there was a discussion about whether he’d go for the Guineas or come to the Coolmore,” Purcell continued. “We decided the Coolmore was a better option so he had a bit of time in the paddock and got a little bit of a spring in his step. His work since he got back has been really good and we put blinkers on today hoping that they’d help him travel a bit better and we came here today hoping that he’d be very strong through the line and obviously he was.”

Zahra, who has ridden the colt in all bar one of his races, said, “What a thrill, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d got there or not but I waited and let it pan out and we got to the inside. It’s great training. I know Ciaron is out, but he had a lot to do with this horse. Since his departure, Dave Eustace and Aaron Purcell said we’re not going to the Guineas, put the blinkers back on and drop back in trip and it was a great plan that’s come off. They freshened him up after the Golden Rose and it was good for it all to come off. He’s an exciting colt.”

Purcell could well be in for a good week at Flemington as OTI Racing’s Aloisia looks set to line up as a strong favourite for the G1 Victoria Oaks on Thursday.

Pedigree Notes…

The 30th Group 1 winner for Coolmore shuttler Fastnet Rock, Merchant Navy is a son of the G2 Sweet Embrace S. winner Legally Bay (Aus) (Snippets {Aus}), who was also runner-up in the G1 TJ Smith S. and is a half-sister to G1 Empire Rose S. winner Bonaria (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}). Merchant Navy went one better than his full-sister Jolie Bay, who was second in the same race in 2012 (then known as the Ascot Vale S.) and won the G2 Roman Consul S., while another sister, Zara Bay (Aus), was second in last year’s Listed Black Pearl Classic.

Legally Bay has a yearling colt by All Too Hard (Aus). Click for the free Arion.co.nz catalogue-style pedigree.


Saturday, Flemington, Australia
COOLMORE STUD S.-G1, A$1,002,500 (US$767,261/£586,740/ €660,764), VRC, 11-04, 3yo, Open Set Weight, 1200mT, 1:09.10, gd.
1–MERCHANT NAVY, 57.0, c, 3, by Fastnet Rock
                1st Dam: Legally Bay (GSW MG1SP-Aus, $430,193),
                                by Snippets
                2nd Dam: Decidity, by Last Tycoon (Ire)
                3rd Dam: Class, by Twig Moss (Fr)
FIRST GROUP 1 WIN. (A$350,000 Ylg 2016 WI Sydney Easter
Yearling Sale). O-Seymour Bloodstock (Mgr: D S Thomas), Halo
Racing Services Pty Ltd (Mgr: C B McKenna), All Cast (Mgr: M J
Catanzariti), Coolmore (Mgr: T V Magnier), Rockhart (Mgr: E
Irwin), B G Ta; B-Mr C Barham (Qld); T-Aaron Purcell; J-M
Zahra; A$602,500. Lifetime Record: 6-5-0-0, A$809,450. *1/2
to Jolie Bay (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), GSW G1SP-Aus,
$242,860. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the
   eNicks report 5-cross pedigree.
2–Invincible Star, 55.0, f, 3, I Am Invincible–Romany Flyer, by
Catbird. (A$200,000 Ylg 2016 MM Gold Coast Yearling Sale).
O-D W Lilley, Mrs S Lilley, D K Dong, D E Lowe, Ms G C Coward,
Ms F Bishop, C Charalambous, T J Pender, Ms M N Zuluaga
Ruiz, L Polglase, S A Barton, A A Smith, G J Whitford, Mrs C L;
B-Mr AD Mitchell (NSW); T-G Waterhouse A Bott; J-S Baster;
3–Formality, 55.0, f, 3, Fastnet Rock–Jolie’s Shinju (Jpn), by
Jolie’s Halo (USA). (A$120,000 Ylg 2016 WI Sydney Easter
Yearling Sale). O-Coolmore (Mgr: Mrs S Magnier), P Shanahan
M V Magnier; B-Dr K Tan (NSW); T-D B Hayes T
Dabernig; J-K Mc Evoy; A$90,000.
Margins: HD, SHD, 2. Odds: 18.00, 5.50. 19.00.
Also Ran: Limestone, Viridine, Dracarys, Malahat, Andaz, Houtzen, Tulip, Lone Eagle, Eptimum, Goodfella, Jukebox, Trapeze Artist, Kementari, Wassergeist, Catchy, Summer Passage, The Mission. Click for the Racing Post chart.

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