The always-popular Caloundra Cup 2022 race...
Jockey Mark Zahra said that despite retaining a flawless career record with a Group 3 win over the weekend, the Ciaron Maher-trained colt Merchant Navy still had improvement heading into Sydney’s Golden Rose Stakes 2017.
The Fastnet Rock three-year-old made it four wins from as many starts on Memsie Stakes Day, holding off Booker (2nd) and Muraahib (3rd) to narrowly take out Caulfield’s Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m) for the punters first-up.
It was the up-and-comer’s first run at Caulfield and he is set to return there to target the Group 1 $2 million Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) over the mile on October 14.
A trip up to Sydney is on the cards first however as Maher plans to take Merchant Navy to Rosehill Gardens on September 23 for the Group 1 $1 million De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).
Zahra has ridden the gun youngster for three of his four starts and said that despite his dominant record, there was still improvement to come as he learned a few more race manners.
“He’s still got a bit to learn,” Zahra told RSN on Sunday.
“You probably wouldn’t know by watching his runs, but he can pull a bit.
“Everything we’ve done with him, we’ve tried to be quiet early.
“I went from [sitting] last, to having them covered in two strides, it was a big win [in the HDF McNeil].
“When I hit the front, he pricked half an ear, so it was like he was toying with Booker in the end.”
The up-and-comer may be untested outside of Victoria, but he has twice won over the 1400m including his nice Flemington win on April 25 in the Listed ANZAC Day Stakes.
Menari remains the early $6 favourite in futures Golden Rose odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Merchant Navy has firmed into single-figures paying $9 in the latest Golden Rose Stakes betting markets.
As for the pre-field 2017 Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas betting markets for the galloper’s October target, Merchant Navy is the $8 second elect behind the also undefeated Royal Symphony ($5.50).
Last year’s Caulfield Cup winning trainer, Maher is yet to prepare the winner of either the Caulfield Guineas in Melbourne or the Golden Rose Stakes in Sydney.
To back Merchant Navy next race and to access all the upcoming Group 1 spring racing odds including those for the Golden Rose 2017 head to Ladbrokes.com.au now.
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