The punters are coming for the Joe Pride-trained...
Aaron Purcell continued his successful takeover from the suspended Ciaron Maher with progressive colt Merchant Navy coming from nowhere late in an incredible finish to beat home two fillies in the stallion-making Coolmore Stud Stakes 2017.
A winner of his four opening career starts including the Group 3 HDF McNeil Stakes (1200m) in early September, nicely-bred Fastnet Rock colt Merchant Navy suffered his first loss when 10th to Trapeze Artist in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) in Sydney last time out.
The team quickly set their sights on the Group 1 $1 million Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m), the opening elite level of the Melbourne Cup Carnival run down the Flemington straight on VRC Derby Day.
Merchant Navy was given the freshen-up and brought back down south with Mark Zahra reuniting with the up-and-comer only to enjoy his first Victoria Derby Day winning ride on the upset $19 winner.
Merchant Navy jumped from a wide barrier 15 (of 20) draw in the capacity field of young sprinters and didn’t even come into calculations until just outside the final furlong.
After getting Cismontane into the 2017 Melbourne Cup field via a Lexus Stakes win the race prior, Tulloch Lodge trainers Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott looked to have a winning chance in the Coolmore Stud Stakes with smart filly Invincible Star.
She jumped narrow $5.50 favourite in an open race and hit the front to lead as the field came together in the ‘straight six’ feature.
Invincible Star had the likes of Lindsay Park’s Blue Sapphire Stakes winning filly Formality ($20), runner-up in the same lead-up Jukebox and the previous undefeated James Cummings-trained Viridine chasing.
In the closing stages Invincible Star looked like she would go all-the-way.
Merchant Navy however arrived late on the scene, switching back to the inside late from his midfield position, charging to the line and getting there first ahead of the luckless Invincible Star and the brave Formality.
The surprise Coolmore Stud Stakes winner had to make up over six lengths on the leader to collar her late in the flashing ride after being boxed away at the back of the field early.
“What a thrill, I wasn’t quite sure if I got there or not,” winning hoop Zahra said post-race.
“Thought I was going to run out of time on him but gee he was strong late.
“To not go to the [Ladbrokes Caulfield] Guineas, put the blinkers on, drop back in trip, it’s a great plan that’s come off.
“It’s good for it to all come off and win a big Group 1.
“He’s an exciting colt.”
Purcell was also over the moon with the Coolmore Stud Stakes result, won by a Coolmore-raced colt.
“It’s a stallion making race and obviously he’s a well-bred Fastnet Rock colt,” Purcell said.
“We came here hoping he’d become a Group 1 winning sprinter and it’s come off.”
Stay tuned for the future racing career of Merchant Navy, checking out all the latest spring racing carnival odds and offers on the upcoming Group 1s online through Ladbrokes.com.au.
2017 Coolmore Stud Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Flemington Race 5 – 04/11/2017
|1||8||MERCHANT NAVY||Aaron Purcell||Mark Zahra||–||15||57kg||$19|
|2||19||INVINCIBLE STAR||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Stephen Baster||0.2L||7||55kg||$6.50EF|
|3||18||FORMALITY||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Kerrin McEvoy||0.3L||2||55kg||$20|
|4||20||LIMESTONE||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||2.3L||19||55kg||$61|
|5||5||VIRIDINE||James Cummings||Brenton Avdulla||2.8L||1||57kg||$10|
|6||9||DRACARYS||Peter & Paul Snowden||Regan Bayliss||2.9L||20||57kg||$41|
|7||12||MALAHAT||James Cummings||Olivier Peslier||3.4L||8||57kg||$201|
|8||13||ANDAZ||Chris Waller||Ben Melham||3.8L||14||57kg||$51|
|9||15||HOUTZEN||Toby Edmonds||Jeff Lloyd||4.2L||5||55kg||$10|
|10||17||TULIP||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Jamie Spencer||5.95L||13||55kg||$17|
|11||11||LONE EAGLE||Mick Price||Dwayne Dunn||6.25L||11||57kg||$51|
|12||10||EPTIMUM||Toby Edmonds||Ryan Maloney||6.45L||4||57kg||$17|
|13||7||GOODFELLA||Bjorn Baker||Jason Collett||6.55L||9||57kg||$31|
|14||6||JUKEBOX||Aaron Purcell||Craig Williams||6.75L||3||57kg||$26|
|15||1||TRAPEZE ARTIST||Gerald Ryan||Tye Angland||7.15L||18||57kg||$6.50EF|
|16||2||KEMENTARI||James Cummings||Damian Lane||7.35L||12||57kg||$10|
|17||14||WASSERGEIST||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Glen Boss||7.45L||16||57kg||$201|
|18||16||CATCHY||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Hugh Bowman||7.65L||17||55kg||$7.50|
|19||4||SUMMER PASSAGE||Lance O’Sullivan & Andrew Scott||Blake Shinn||12.65L||10||57kg||$41|
|20||3||THE MISSION||Paul Perry||Noel Callow||13.65L||6||57kg||$201|
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