The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
Trainer Ciaron Maher has described his Golden Rose Stakes 2017 hopeful Merchant Navy as “smooth” heading into the undefeated colt’s first Group 1 test in Sydney on Saturday.
To date the Fastnet Rock three-year-old has won all four of his career starts in Victoria including the narrow first-up victory at Caulfield on September 2 in the Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m).
The form out of that early spring race was franked over the weekend by the second-placed filly Booker who ran under a length back third behind Blue Diamond winner Catchy in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) down the Flemington straight.
Now it is Merchant Navy’s turn as he prepares for his Sydney race debut on Saturday at Rosehill Gardens in the Group 1 $1 million Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).
Maher is full of pre-race confidence that Merchant Navy will handle the Sydney way of going having worked the colt the reverse way at his home Caulfield track a number of times.
“He’s been smooth,” Maher told the Herald Sun this week.
“He’s a colt. They don’t need time in the paddock before their grand final … so far so good.
“They do reverse gallops quite a bit at Caulfield. It’s to manage the tracks and I don’t mind it either.
“He went up [to Sydney] as a two-year-old to Randwick when he was going to run in the [Group 1 ATC] Sires but was an emergency.
“He had a couple of gallops up there in that direction and I think the trip up there brought him on as a horse.
“As a two-year-old he was a bit of a baby and it made him grow up a bit.
“He galloped the reverse way on Tuesday.”
Merchant Navy is currently rated an $11 shot in futures Golden Rose Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Those all-in Golden Rose Stakes betting markets are dominated by the Gerald Ryan-trained Menari ($2) who comes off big wins in the Listed The Rosebud (1100m) and Group 2 Run To The Rose (1200m) at the Rosehill track this time in.
The Run To The Rose form has been the one to follow into the Group 1 in recent years with the past five Golden Rose winners having had their final lead-up in the Group 2 including the past three completing the double: Hallowed Crown (2014), Exosphere (2015) and Astern (2016).
The last horse to come off a Melbourne lead-up and take out the Golden Rose Stakes meanwhile was Toorak Toff (2010) who won the Listed Vain Stakes in his final lead-up.
Merchant Navy is likely to return south after the Golden Rose Stakes run for a shot at the Group 1 $2 million Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 14.
He is the equal $8 favourite in pre-field Caulfield Guineas odds with Catchy following the unbeaten Tony McEvoy-trained Royal Symphony ($3) who won the Listed Exford Plate (1400m) first-up at Flemington on Saturday.
Check out the full Golden Rose Stakes 2017 odds for this weekend and access to the early Group 1 markets for other upcoming features like the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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