The four-year-old could not add to his King George VI, Irish Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victories this season as he trailed in seventh, four and three quarter lengths behind the French-trained winner Doctor Dino in his final run.
After being held up towards the rear by jockey Johnny Murtagh, a stumble when hampered early in the straight ended his chances.
O’Brien paid tribute to the Danehill colt’s career and praised his resilience in still being able to run after missing out on the Japan Cup. He had been held up by veterinary red tape getting to Hong Kong having already experiencing an arduous and extremely competitive season.
“He’s probably the best horse we’ve ever had,” said the trainer.
“What he’s done this year from a mile and a furlong to a mile and a half is amazing and there comes a time for every horse.
“You must remember what he’s done, and even for him to turn up today, very few horses would’ve even turned up.
“He got caught in quarantine in Japan for a long time and he looked a horse ready to go into training than go out of training being realistic and honest, he was way overweight.
“We couldn’t do anything about it, we put as much work into him as we could and the lads did a good job keeping him sound and right.
Murtagh added: “We missed the start and he was back too far and there was no pace. We had a problem when the winner came out on us in the straight but he had no gas.”
Doctor Dino, ridden by Olivier Peslier, hit the front close to home to win by a length and a half from German gelding Quijano with fellow German challenger Bussoni third. Arch Rebel finished a highly-creditable fourth for Noel Meade.
Meanwhile Champion miler Ramonti stepped up to 10 furlongs in style with victory in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup.
Godolphin’s five-year-old had to survive a stewards’ inquiry but there was no doubting his superiority over local favourite Viva Pataca.
Dettori had Ramonti beautifully placed in third as Royal Prince set the pace from Shadow Gate.
He drove the Saeed bin Suroor-trained entire to the head of the field a furlong out while Viva Pataca, ridden by Mick Kinane, could not find a way through at a crucial time.
Ramonti got first run and Viva Pataca could not make up the leeway.
Bin Suroor said: “He’s won three Group Ones in England this season and he’s a world champion miler. We thought we’d try a mile and a quarter towards the end of the season.”
Ramonti was providing Godolphin with handsome compensation after Creachadoir had been pipped by Good Ba Ba in a thrilling finish to the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile.
Both horses made their move at the same time after Kongo Rikishio had set just a steady pace.
Dettori came with a perfectly-timed run on Creachadoir but he just could not get past Good Ba Ba, ridden by Olivier Doleuze.
The five-year-old, trained by German-born Andreas Schutz, who is in his second season in Hong Kong, got the verdict by a short head.
Darjina, trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre, was third with Floral Pegasus fourth.
Aidan O’Brien, whose Excellent Art failed to fire, said: “You only come and hope. He didn’t owe us anything and he had been unlucky in three Group Ones. They are only flesh and blood, they can’t be good every day.”